Non-profit benefits, the Church, and Health Care Reform

I’ve been thinking more and more about the ‘how’ of funding the kind of reform necessary to meet the needs of the 46’000’000+ Americans who do not have health insurance.

Such an endeavor has led me to ask some crazy questions, most of which need be dropped. However, there is one that keeps coming back to me: should churches give up their non-profit/tax free status to help fund health care reform in America?

I ask this specifically of the Church for reasons which may admittedly reflect my understanding of Christian engagement with issues of contemporary justice than may be universally held.

First, I ask this question because I believe that the Church exists for the healing of the world. As such, I believe that the Church should be willing to risk and give up anything which privileges it to the exclusion of others. By maintaining a system which keeps the church from paying into government funds which are used for the benefit of the citizens of America, the church may systematically be part of the problem with funding.

Second, I ask this because I believe that the opportunity for well being is a right which is tied to the inevitable moral essence in every person. If I’m correct, then shouldn’t the Church do everything in its power to make sure that people in all places and of all types get that which is morally (and ethically) theirs?

Someone quirked at me the other day that they were unsure when it become a right for every person to have health care. I was, and remain, shocked that anyone would even remotely consider that it is not the right of people to be healthy and well. But maybe this is part of the problem: namely that the church in America has grown numb to the major social issues of our day and thus grown disconnected from one of the greatest aspects of its character, self-sacrifice.

I mean what would be more giving than to suspend one’s privilege to provide for those least privileged?

If the church wants to stand for justice, and if justice in America today means making sure all its citizens have access to health care, should the church give up its tax-free status in order to fund the care of ‘the least of these’ in her midst?

Do Justice!


4 thoughts on “Non-profit benefits, the Church, and Health Care Reform

  1. I like this piece of writing Joshua. This is great! I agree that the church should stand the challenges that faces people of our day and age be it health care reforms or better policy that allows people to live like people and not animals. Disconnecting from “one of the greatest aspects of its character, self-sacrifice” I quote you disqualifies it from being the body of Jesus…

  2. I respectfully disagree with the idea that the church should give up its tax free status. I very much want people to lead better lives, just as you do; but I look at life differently. In theory one of the purposes of the church is to reach out to people that the government cannot help because there are always people that fall between the cracks in any system. Therefore, in theory the money that goes to the church is an alternative to helping people through the government. I agree that the health care system needs a massive overhaul, but I do not think it is a right. One problem is that we will always argue over how much health care is a right. Does a government plan stop at flu shots or do we do plastic surgery or somewhere in between. (Feel good politics will always push towards plastic surgery.) The founding documents for our country include the right of a “pursuit of happiness,” not happiness itself. We need drastic reductions in the cost of healthcare as purchased by us and our government so that we have equal opportunity to pursue good health. I want my church to reach out to the people that are correcting mistakes made early in life, not my government; whenever people think the government will help them they become lazy. (And yes it makes me very sad that people make bad choices; but the Kingdom has not come to earth yet.)

  3. I would agree that giving up the non-profit status on the part of the Church is wrong. First of all, can we not do that to all non-profits? And if we don’t then what are we saying about the status of the Church? I think the Church serves a purpose more primary than that of secular (though good).
    I would have to correct one item though-“pursuit of happiness” had more to do with Locke’s view of owning property than “being happy.”
    I do not like the idea of the Church giving the government full reign of helping the “least of these.” First of all, the government will inevitably get it wrong. They can help-but not at the expense of the work the Church does. If we believe in holistic care as Christians than we can not afford to cripple the Church and its purpose (which health care is very much a part of) at the expense of attempting to aid in financing one single measure-especially when the government needs to fix its spending much more! The money is there in the government-they just don’t know where to get it from.

  4. I totally disagree to your last the line, “but the kingdom has not come to earth yet”. “Let your come kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven” says Jesus himself. A spoken desire and a declaration as the way things should be a means of communicating the will and desire of the Father. Our concept of eternity or heaven shouldn’t be a vague idea as christians or else we would be on the same line as muslims. It should be lived as such that our lives is seen as different that people would bring praise to HIM. The kingdom on earth is what the Jews understood when the commandment was given to them. It was God’s ways to live in this corrupt place but yet not be corrupted. The 10 commandments isn’t just a set of rules to keep us from fun. They are to keep us from killing ourselves, living healthy lives, living well with the aliens in our land, ways to care for the needy and not take from the little they have. This in the 21st century would be translated to spiritual growth, social challenges that leaves families with out food and shelter that makes their children steal and prostitute and many more. If God’s word isn’t applicable and it is not an illustration of his kingdom on earth then I quit my mission work go back home and live as a pessimist.

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