Christianity,  Politics

N. T. Wright says Christians should support national healthcare

Speaking of N. T. Wright, Michael Kruger points to an interview with Wright earlier this year in which Wright chastises American Christians who oppose national healthcare (i.e., Obamacare). In Wright’s own words:

In [the United States], for example, there seem to be Christian political voices saying that you shouldn’t have a national healthcare system. To us, in Britain, this is virtually unthinkable. Every other developed country from Norway to New Zealand has healthcare for all of its citizens. We don’t understand all of this opposition to it over here in the U.S. And, we should remember: In the ancient world, there wasn’t any healthcare system. It was the Christians, very early on, who introduced the idea that we should care for people beyond the circle of our own kin. Christians taught that we should care for the poor and disadvantaged. Christians eventually organized hospitals. To hear people standing up in your political debate and saying—”If you are followers of Jesus, you must reject universal healthcare coverage!”—and that’s unthinkable to us. Those of us who are Christians in other parts of the world are saying: We can’t understand this political language. It’s not our value in our countries. It’s not even in keeping with traditional Christian teaching on caring for others. We can’t understand what we are hearing from some of your politicians on this point. Yet, over here, some Christians are saying that it’s part of the list of boxes we all should check off to keep in line.

Thus Wright makes the astonishing claim that Christians must support a nationalized approach to healthcare as the only valid approach. Kruger offers a rejoinder that makes the case for small-government solutions to the healthcare debate. I appreciate what Kruger has to say, but I would argue that Christian concern about this law is even more fundamental than debates about the size and scope of government—an issue about which faithful Christians can disagree.

Regardless of one’s views on nationalized healthcare, the law in the United States forces Christian citizens to violate their consciences. Does Wright realize that Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate stands as one of the greatest threats to religious liberty our country has ever faced? Does he realize that Obamacare forces employers to buy insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs? Does Wright know that the law forces Roman Catholic employers to pay for drugs that their church says are immoral?

Christians should not divide with one another over political issues such as the size and scope of government. Neither should they divide over differences about national healthcare. But neither of those points have been the primary loci of concern among American Christians. Christian opposition to Obamacare in the United States has been most vociferous because of the law’s proscription of religious liberty. To miss this fact is to misunderstand the nature of Christian opposition to Obamacare.

(HT: Mike Bird)


  • James Bradshaw

    According to law McDermott Will & Emery, eligible organizations “can avoid contracting, arranging, paying or referring for contraceptive coverage as long as it self-certifies”.

    This bill has its faults, but I don’t think that placing believers in a position of moral culpability for providing an abortion is one of them.

  • Matt Heisig

    This is a classic example of how a debate gets hijacked and all of a sudden we’re not talking about what we used to be talking about. This wasn’t ever about “whether people should have healthcare” or not.

    I’m not opposed to “national healthcare” and I doubt any other Christian really is. What I, and millions of others, are opposed to is what Denny mentions here, namely the imposition of tyrannical laws the violate the conscience. I’m also vehemently opposed to how most countries go about paying for said national healthcare.

    It’s a bit like accusing me of not wanting anyone else to eat donuts. I’m not opposed to the eating of donuts. On the contrary, I’m greatly in favor of it and enjoy them on my own time regularly. What I am opposed to is someone breaking into his neighbor’s house, pilfering his piggybank to pay for his donut and then forcing me to eat a donut even though I’m quite fine, thank you very much. But before you know it you’re branded as an “intolerant donut hater.”

    If you’d like to pay for the donut with your own, earned money and then enjoy it by yourself, more power to you. I fail to see why I should be paying for your donut or forced to eat one myself.

  • Chris Ryan

    How–from a non-Catholic perspective–is Obamacare’s contraception mandate the greatest threat to religious liberty in our country’s history? 98% of American women have used contraception at some point. I don’t understand the fear of Obamacare coming from Protestant-circles. And given our 237 year history is well peppered with anti-Catholic legislation & slavery, how is a law which simply supports the existing behavior of 98% of Americans impeding our liberty?

    • Brett Cody

      So true! Conversely, why do those who do not follow Christ react with such disgust at Christians when the Christians are opposed to legislation based on the violation of their beliefs?

  • Tom Agnew

    Understanding that the only excerpt of Wright’s comments on Obamacare I have read are the ones that you have provided in this blog, it seems to me that what Wright is appalled at is the rhetoric that is so common in our polarized American culture that basically demonizes universal healthcare as unChristian. Though he may personally embrace universal healthcare, this is far cry that all is said about his particular views on every aspect of Obamacare or that Christian MUST embrace universal healthcare.

    With that said, I have my concerns about Obamacare specifically the issue of religious liberty and the forcing of people to ignore their deeply held religious beliefs and embrace a healthcare that clearly contradicts those beliefs. Additionally, the financial impact is a big concern for me as well.

    But as a pastor in a Southern Baptist Church in a major Southern city, I suspect that much of what Wright is concerned about reflects accurately among many “Christians” who simply oppose Obamacare because he is Obama and that he is a liberal democrat. Certainly, I think we have much that needs to weeded out of the Affordable Care Act but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with bathwater and suppose that Wright is wholehearted endorsing Obamacare. As Americans, we do pigeonhole ourselves globally at times and demonize anything European on occasion but we must remember that other “Bible-Believing” Brits embrace universal health care and simply are concerned with the over “spiritualizing” of certain political subgroups or special interests as “Christian” or “non-Christian” is absurd. One noted theologian, Carl Trueman, speaks of this concern in his book “Republocrat.”

    I certainly don’t agree with all of his conclusions (such as what I what I listed above) but let’s be careful not to marginalize people simply because the topic is so heated over here on our side of the pond.

    • buddyglass

      Tim Challies, whom I suspect is fairly well respected by most folks who hold Denny in high regard, has written in the past that he’s pretty satisfied with his health care in Canada. He tends to avoid writing about it, though, because I suspect he (rightly) perceives that expressing a preference for the Canadian over the U.S. system (esp. pre-Obamacare) would be a huge turnoff for his many American readers.

  • Nate Schlomann

    Sad to add NT Wright to the list of intelligent people with such an underdeveloped understanding of civil government. To have what NT Wright suggests required the use of force and coercion against others that is certainly anti-Christian. But for some reason Wright, like others, can’t see that democratic governments are not like dictatorships and monarchy. There must be a point at which “We the people” do not have the moral right to force others to do what we want, and that should be a very high Christian value.

    • Bill Hickman

      Since when is opposing all coercion a Christian principle of government? Surely you don’t oppose all coercion. If I try to trespass on your property, you would certainly support government efforts to coerce me off of it, wouldn’t you?

      • Nate Schlomann

        Bill, no where in my post did I say Christians should oppose all coercion, thank you for your charitable reading. Coercion is just when it is used in the defense of others. But it is not OK to use coercion simply to get your way, as a general principle.

        Also, I did say “there must be a point” – recognizing this is a judgement call. We can come together and agree that all should pay for certain things – police forces, fire departments, etc. But there must be some point at which continuing to require things of our neighbors becomes immoral. We can disagree where that point is, but no one disagrees (other than fascists) that there is a line to not be crossed. On that principle alone, Wright is wrong.

        • Bill Hickman

          First, your I don’t think your distinction between offensive coercion and defensive coercion holds up as well as you think. Also, yes, everyone agrees there’s a point. Why do you think Wright disagrees with that? I don’t see where he advocates for the confiscation of all private property. I think he’s saying the US health care system is odious enough that it’s not tyranny to require everyone to pitch in. Why do conservatives think Obamacare is categorically different than every other program or more “coercive” than any other program?

          • Randall Seale

            It doesn’t require everyone to pitch-in – only the taxpayers. It will forcibly take from person A and freely give to person B. Taking wages from someone who did work for them and giving them to someone who did not work for them is tyrannical.

            • Ray Hooker

              Randall, I think this is a real fallacy. Anytime you do something in government that may benefit one more than another, you could call it stealing. That is wrong. Ideally everyone can see the public good and agrees with that whether it be fire and rescue, public works that in some cases may be cosmetic, military or some form of public assistance. Tragically in political environment, some will disagree. So it is only stealing if you refuse to support the public process.. It is a matter of attitude. Do you think God is only pleased with help to the poor if we deliver by private means? I think he is delighted when we do the right thing, even if government is the right choice for delivery. In any case, it is not necessarily tyranny.

  • James Stanton

    I just want to point out the inconsistent logic of conservative opposition to improving the healthcare system. It did not start with Obamacare or Hillarycare. This opposition has been there since the establishment of safety nets from FDR-LBJ and even back to Theodore Roosevelt and beginnings of the progressive era. There was no question of “religious liberty” when LBJ was trying to pass Medicare or when Bill Clinton tried to pass universal healthcare. Conservatives have opposed it all along and never worked to fix the inequities in the system when last charged with all three branches of government. They have never accepted the premise that the system is broken and in need of fixing. The contraception mandate has nothing to do with reforming healthcare in this country. It’s pure politics on both sides.

    It is also somewhat misleading to consider Obamacare nationalized healthcare. Yes, there are reforms that standardize what healthcare plans must offer and there are tons of regulations but the system is a marketplace of private health insurance plans. The profits go to private companies.

  • Esther O'Reilly

    Not to mention the fact that poor people are ultimately NOT going to be helped by this! In fact, working-class Americans who fall between the two stools of being well-off and being eligible for government handouts are going to suffer terribly. People will be forced to buy bloated health-care packages they don’t need. This is a scandalous abuse of the government’s constitutional authority, and moreover, Obama and the administration have proven that they actually lied to the American people about how it was going to be implemented. People are getting hours cut and losing their current policies right and left because the so-called “Affordable Care Act” is so back-breakingly costly.

    Is there nobody with a modicum of economic good sense who can somehow get this across to N.T. Wright?

    • buddyglass

      “Not to mention the fact that poor people are ultimately NOT going to be helped by this! In fact, working-class Americans who fall between the two stools of being well-off and being eligible for government handouts…”

      If you’re not eligible for subsidies then you’re not all that poor. Though, you do sort of have a point. The poorest people were already on Medicaid.

      The main people that get a raw deal under Obama care are those who:

      1. Don’t have employer-provided insurance either personally or through a spouse,
      2. Aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medicare,
      3. Are very healthy,
      4. Earn enough to not be eligible for a very large subsidy, if any, and
      5. Previously carried inexpensive high-deductible insurance.

      This group will face higher premiums. However, in exchange for those higher premiums it will get better coverage. Even if (because they’re healthy) this additional coverage is unlikely to be used, it nevertheless mitigates their risk of a huge financial expense in the case of an unforeseen, catastrophic health event. So they’re not paying higher premiums “for nothing”.

    • Chris Ryan

      “People will be forced to buy bloated health-care packages they don’t need. This is a scandalous abuse…”

      The individual insurance market was littered with lemon policies. Do you know how hard it was to get maternity coverage pre-Obamacare? It was virtually impossible & if you did get it it cost a fortune ($1K per month just for a maternity rider), withheld benefits for at least a year after you began paying premiums, and frequently only paid for 50% of actual costs. Now, I as a guy don’t need maternity care 🙂 but my 3 sisters & my wife appreciate it! And I don’t mind helping paying for it. In fact, its the Christian thing to do.

      Obamacare is no more coercive than Medicare, and I don’t see ppl complaining abt Medicare. My Christian charity stops w/ my tithes & offerings; the portion of our taxes going to food stamps, health care, welfare, and social security is also part of our Christian charity.

      • Esther O'Reilly

        How do you feel about 60-year-old women being forced to buy packages that include maternity care? This is an example of what I mean, and yes, it is hurting people all over the country. Many people, especially young people, would RATHER stick with a bare-bones catastrophic only plan and take their chances. They should be free to make that choice.

        • Chris Ryan

          60yo women will among the biggest beneficiaries of Obamacare. I know this from personal experience. My mother was forced to retire early, at 58, and for 7 years I paid her insurance premiums. The annual inflation bill was ~15% and the year she finally qualified for Medicare they were $1,200 per month. And that was many years ago. The people doing the subsidizing here are 27-50yos. People north of 50 will be consuming more than average, while people under 50 will be consuming less than average. I’m ok with that b/cs most 30yos end up being 60yos, So this is just an example of “paying it forward”. Life doesn’t end when we’re born; to really be “Pro Life” means we have to support universal health care. If churches can provide that, that’s great. If not then this is the right time to “Render unto Caesar.”

  • Bryan McWhite

    Mr. Burk, you’re unfair and uncharitable here in that you’ve introduced a scarecrow argument against Wright. Wright said he thinks Christians should support some sort of national healthcare. He did not say that Christians should specifically support Obamacare, with all of its violations of religious liberty. One can support national healthcare and not support all of Obamacare. My sense is that that’s what Wright would argue for if he were given a bit more hearing on that.

    I read your blog sometimes when friends repost things you’ve written. This strikes me as a good example of your tendency to overreach. I think you would be wise to craft more measured commentary.

  • Richard Landis

    “Thus Wright makes the astonishing claim that Christians must support a nationalized approach to healthcare as the only valid approach.”

    He didn’t say that.

  • Bill Hickman

    I don’t think he’s critiquing opposition to Obamacare as much as he’s critiquing unthinking, reactionary conservative opposition to any and all government efforts to reform the health care system.

    In our for-profit health care system, the old and the sick don’t get covered because insurers can’t sell them insurance at a profit. Covering them either requires 1) the government to force private insurers to cover them or 2) the government to cover them itself. Either way, the government has to act. Conservatives *refuse* to grapple with this fact.

  • Roger Dennis

    What you’re saying is the government should force its citizens, at gunpoint, to part with their property so that it can enact policies it deems “for the good of the people”. Do I have that right?

    • Bill Hickman

      The government forces us to do things all the time. Do you pay taxes? Why is the government forcing people to do stuff inherently wrong?

      • Nate Schlomann

        Bill, the government using force is not inherently wrong, but we must address the issue of for what things the government should be allowed to use force. What things should a majority of citizens be allowed to vote for the minority to do? You must agree, unless you’re a fascist, that there is a line somewhere. So the debate then is, where is that line and is requiring healthcare passed it.

        I would submit that so many Americans feel that requiring healthcare is passed the line of what the government can do, that as a Christian it would be unjust to force your will on them by majority.

  • Johnny Mason

    N.T. Wright lives in England which has socialized health care, which he appears to be for and thinks all Christians should be behind. And the NHS in England is achieved through the taking of property by force, which last time I checked was called theft.

    He mentions how Christians were at the forefront of providing medical care and starting hospitals,and he is correct, but notice that this was done outside of government, voluntarily, and without coercion. It is what we should all strive to do as Christians. But then to take that and then say we must now force everyone to support this system by force, then it ceases to be charitable and becomes something much worse.

    • buddyglass

      “through the taking of property by force, which last time I checked was called theft.”

      You need to check again, then. Collection of taxes (under threat of force) that were instituted by a citizenry’s duly elected representatives is not theft.

      • Johnny Mason

        It is theft, just by another name. Taking the labor of a man, by force, is a grave evil and supreme injustice, even if it was duly enacted by elected representatives. If I come into your house and take your property by force, then no one would deny that it is theft, but somehow this changes when the thieves are duly elected by the citizenry.

        “But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

        Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals. If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

        The person who profits from this law will complain bitterly, defending his acquired rights. He will claim that the state is obligated to protect and encourage his particular industry; that this procedure enriches the state because the protected industry is thus able to spend more and to pay higher wages to the poor workingmen.

        Do not listen to this sophistry by vested interests. The acceptance of these arguments will build legal plunder into a whole system. In fact, this has already occurred. The present-day delusion is an attempt to enrich everyone at the expense of everyone else; to make plunder universal under the pretense of organizing it.” – Bastiat

        • buddyglass

          “It is theft, just by another name.”

          It’s fundamentally not theft, since nobody’s forcing you to pay taxes to the U.S. government. You could, for instance, choose to emigrate instead. By choosing to keep your U.S. citizenship you agree to abide by the laws enacted by the peoples’ duly elected representatives. If you choose not to abide by them there are, obviously, consequences. If you find yourself in a position where you’re suffering those consequences (e.g. if you refused to pay your taxes) then you’re in that situation by your own choosing.

          • Nate Schlomann

            Buddy, you are both right and wrong. You are correct that unjust (key word) taxation is not theft. It is perfectly legal, and theft is a legal term. But you are gravely wrong in that you have no category for unjust taxation being immoral and something to be boldly spoken against.

            On these boards you keep coming across as dedicated statist, and that is no place for a Christian to be.

  • buddyglass

    Two thoughts:

    First, Wright seems to misspeak when he uses the phrase “national healthcare”. What he means is “universal health care” or possibly “universal health insurance”. The U.K. has a fully nationalized system, but not all the other countries that can claim something approaching “universal health care” use a system that’s fully nationalized.

    Second, you write, “Christian opposition to Obamacare in the United States has been most vociferous because of the law’s proscription of religious liberty.” I’m not so sure. If there was an “out” for employers who wished not to provide coverage for hormonal contraceptives, I suspect opposition to Obamacare among conservative Christians would be approximately as strong as it is right now. Obviously we can’t know for sure; that’s just a hunch.

    • buddyglass

      Typically because the 51% are voting to have their own money as well, and much of the money taken away from the 49% is given back to…the 49%.

      I liken the situation to condo ownership in a building. Every owner in the building pays dues, but any owner can sell at any time and move out. There is a governing body that decides how to spend the dues and whether they should be increased or decreased. This governing body may be a subset of elected representatives from among the pool of all owners. If you, as an individual owner, refuse to pay your dues then it’s not “theft” for the governing body to put a lien on your property and try to collect. If you were unwilling to pay then you should have sold your unit and moved out.

      • Johnny Mason

        But those owners signed a contract in which they agreed to pay their dues. Where is the contract where I agreed to pay confiscatory taxes?

        • buddyglass

          You agree to abide by the laws of this country when you decline to opt out of citizenship. Don’t want to pay what you consider to be confiscatory taxes? Renounce your citizenship and emigrate.

          “The United States” is a voluntary enterprise. You were lucky enough to get automatic membership by virtue having a member as a parent, but nobody’s forcing you to stay. I wager there are plenty of educated, hard-working folks elsewhere in the world who’d jump at the chance to take your place and pay those same confiscatory taxes.

  • Larry Geiger

    “Conservatives have opposed it all along and never worked to fix the inequities in the system when last charged with all three branches of government.” Government run healthcare will introduce MORE inequities, not reduce inequities. And besides, take much more money than is necessary just based on the fact that there is going to be a large increase in the number of government employees. More overhead ALWAYS adds more cost and more inequities.

    Secondly, ALL safety nets are theft. Plain and simple. Take money from me to give to someone else. That’s theft. It will always turn upside down. Welfare always creates more problems than it solves. Give a gift to support someone and it multiplies, steal it through coercion or taxes and it reduces. It almost always sounds good, like pre-marital cohabitation, but it ends in disaster.

    • James Stanton

      I appreciate your thoughts, Larry. Here’s where I disagree with you. Social security and Medicare have very low overhead costs. You can look up the figures and see that administrative costs for these programs are roughly ~1-3%. It is impossible for the private sector to match this level due to the profit factor. I am only talking about these two programs and will not make blanket assumptions that the government is always efficient or always inefficient.. This is obviously not true at all and we probably agree on the failure of the government in most areas.

      Your second point is ideological and you don’t leave much room for debate with that kind of moral judgement. The GI Bill, for example, is redistributive. Why should you have to subsidize my college education just because I served in the military? Some might argue that such a program is theft for a cause they do not support.

  • Andy Moffat


    I totally agree with you that there are significant issues of religious freedom that Obamacare violates and that NT Wright fails to delineate. However, I am a Canadian who has universal health care access and I must admit that there are aspects of your medical system that seem suspect in terms of its morality. Is health care really the best place for the almighty juggernauts of free enterprise and capitalism to run rampant? If the issues of freedom of religion abortion etc were not a part of the equation, would America be more apt to accept the program? A big part of me says not likely. Yes, those issues need to be addressed and Obamacare needs to flex to accommodate those concerns, but don’t fail to hear all of what Wright is saying based on your umbrage with how he failed to respond on those issues.

    • Denny Burk

      I think faithful Christians can disagree with one another over the desirability of government controlled healthcare. It should not be a test of Christian fellowship or faithfulness. Christians should be able to be in church together and have fellowship with one another while not agreeing on socialized medicine. But the issue in United States has to do with religious freedom and the way that Obamacare runs roughshod over the freedom to practice one’s faith. And that’s the issue that we’re concerned about.

      • buddyglass

        Would you disagree with the commenters who argue support for a tax-funded government program to increase access to healthcare is distinctly immoral and unbiblical even in the absence of religious freedom issues?

        Calling something patently immoral and unbiblical that is in fact neutral seems like kind of a “big deal”.

      • Andy Moffat

        I agree with both those points Denny. Christians can disagree about a social program and Obamacare is a significant concern to the religious freedom of believers. That concern needs to be addressed decisively.

        Is the belief in gov’t health care a reasonable litmus test for the voracity of someone’s Christian faith? No! People can certainly disagree. But I am still left to wonder why it seems the American church has been seemingly silent for so long (long before Obamacare) on the state of your health care system and the apparent lack of justness in the way it operates, especially concerning the poor.

        I’m an outsider who only sees snippets here and there – restore my faith… 😉

    • Randall Seale

      @ Andy Moffat

      “Is health care really the best place for the almighty juggernauts of free enterprise and capitalism to run rampant?”

      I realize this is slightly off-topic from the threat Obamacare poses to religious freedom (BTW, a freedom won with blood of thousands of patriots), but is health care really the best place for the (dishonest, inept, dishonorable) federal gov’t to run rampant over the citizenry?

      Gov’t health care is so foreign to the vision of America.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    So Christians can’t be statist? Where does that leave Jimmy Carter then, for example? Or William Jennings Bryan? Or are the just not “true” Christians? Perhaps the problem is that they just aren’t true conservatives, and all too often these to Cs get conflated?

    It seems more and more, to us outsiders, that Evangelicals/conservative Christians are conservatives first and Christians second. Don’t get me wrong: I have no doubt the Mainliners are liberals first and Christians second. But if this blog article proves anything, it shows that Christians of all stripes (N.T. Wright notwithstanding) are perfectly happy politicizing Scripture.

    • Esther O'Reilly

      Some of us see it as a happy marriage—as CLEAR-THINKING Christians, we make reasonable decisions and conclusions about the culture around us. This naturally leads us to the principles of conservatism.

  • Brett Cody

    Mr. Wright,
    Please understand. We Christians believe the hospitals were established without concern for exploitation of the system. Mr. President is our antithesis.

  • Johnny Mason

    there are others in the blogosphere commenting on this issue and Mike Kruger makes some good points here:

    “But third, and most problematic, Wright defends nationalized healthcare on the grounds that “Christians taught that we should care for the poor and disadvantaged.” While I certainly agree this is a Christian value, how does that fact lead one to conclude that the government should be the body doing it? This simply does not follow. Historically, it was Christians caring for the poor and disadvantaged and not the government!”

    Caring for the poor and disadvantaged is the role and sphere of the Body of Christ and not the government. The government is not ordained or tasked with that role, and what happens when institutions start taking on roles that are not assigned to them, is that the problem becomes worse. We are seeing this in full effect with Obamacare. We are seeing people lose their job, lose their insurance, lose hours, and paying much higher premiums and deductibles. Rather then fix the problem, it has made the problem worse. And those yelling to stop this car and to take a better way are shouted down as haters of the poor and marginalized.

    • James Stanton

      “Caring for the poor and disadvantaged is the role and sphere of the Body of Christ and not the government.”

      If this is true then we are failing miserably. For example, our child poverty rate is the second highest in the industrialized world. If we are not doing our part even when government has much responsibility for the the burden of caring for the most unfortunate among us then we are not likely to meet the needs when government is alleviated of that responsibility. You don’t have to look far to see that there are poor and needy among us. They have always been among us and always will be.

      We have seen a remarkable demonization of people who use food stamps in recent years. The increased usage of that safety net program happened to coincide after a near depression that took millions of jobs out of the economy. I’m not sure Christians are ready and willing to step in and serve on that level if such programs are not available. Indeed many politicians are looking to strip away such benefits at the times when they are needed most.

      • Lauren Bertrand

        James Stanton, speaking as one who generally disagrees strongly with the social conservative angle held by the majority on this blog, I can still say I don’t have much problem with the “demonization of people who use food stamps”. From my angle, I am unable to reconcile the news reports of “millions of Americans who struggle with hunger” with blatant empirical evidence that tens (or hundreds) of millions of Americans are obese…and that number is growing. And yet it is the poor of America–the ones who ostensibly would have the most difficulties affording food–who often have the highest rates of obesity. Mississippi has long been America’s fattest state, and yet I’d be shocked if it weren’t proportionally high in the dependency of its population on food stamps. With all these fat, poor Americans, exactly who is starving? In recent years, we’ve learned people put their food stamp benefits on the auction block. Since it’s hard to determine where (if anywhere) in America we are approaching famine, why do we think that expanding food stamp programs is going to help, even when tied to healthy food initiatives like the WIC? Even the homeless of America are often fat.

        No doubt there are plenty who aren’t getting the right sort of nutrition, since healthy fruits and veggies are expensive. But so is meat, and these impoverished, malnourished, but fat people are clearly getting their calories somewhere. Until we confront a discrepancy like this, I find it just as difficult to empathize with people on food stamps as the Evangelicals…all while recognizing the critical need for charities (mostly religious ones) who do provide meals to the neediest and poorest. At one point, the government was a last-resort solution to social ills, since the belief was that most could be solved through individual initiatives or good collaborative thinking. In the eyes of the fiscal liberals, the government is almost always the first resort for solving problems.

        • James Stanton

          Well, you don’t have to be starving to be in need. How do you define poverty? It’s much different being poor in America in most cases to being poor in a far less developed country.

          Second, we probably all know people who are cheating the system and have needlessly become dependent on government aid. I’m not prepared to say that this represents more than a small portion of cases.

          Obesity is a problem for all types of Americans. You already touched on some of the root causes. There are other factors beyond cheap, unhealthy food to include lack of exercise and depression.

          I am a social conservative (in terms of doctrine and personal faith) and I’d like to think I am an economic conservative of some sort as well. I believe in paying for the services people demand. Food stamps equate to about $1.40 per meal. A better option could be to raise the minimum wage to a level that would be appropriate for a living wage that would reduce the need for dependence on government.

  • Derek Taylor

    NT Wright is more partisan than your typical Fox News watcher. No exaggeration. I have observed him for a number of years now and he has very little self restraint in terms of injecting himself into American politics, or of making dogmatic statements about debatable matters. I have my own political opinions, and am not afraid to show them, but I’d feel a little bit uncomfortable about giving dogmatic opinions to my British friends about who they ought to vote for and what policies to rally around. Bad manners, NT Wright. Very bad manners.

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