I’m not a fan of Bible-verse duels over politics. They tend to start stupid and just get more so.
An unpromising opener for this post, I know. But John Kasich needs to stop trying to shut up critics of his Medicaid policies with references to the Bible.
(It’s worth noting about Kasich’s track record on this that he never references anything specific. We’re all still waiting for the chapter and verse on why it’s righteous or necessary for government to confiscate money from some people, and use a part of it to control other people’s medical care, and another big part of it to pay the salaries and upkeep of a lot of people who enforce that control, but don’t actually provide any medical care.)
John Nolte (Breitbart) has a transcript of Kasich’s most recent remarks:
Look at Medicaid expansion. Do you know how many people are yelling at me? I go out to events where people yell at me. You know what I tell ‘em? … I say, there’s a book. It’s got a new part and an old part; they put it together, it’s a remarkable book. If you don’t have one, I’ll buy you one. It talks about how we treat the poor. Sometimes you just have to lead.
Now, the point of the Bible – the point of Christianity in general – isn’t to shut people up. It’s not meant to be used as a rhetorical bludgeon. So please take my comment here as food for thought.
Each time we hear from Governor Kasich that we need to agree with him on Medicaid “because Bible,” I’m reminded of what Jesus said about some of the religious leaders of his time when he was teaching in Jerusalem, toward the end of his ministry on earth.
I’m reminded of this passage more and more these days, as government at all levels in America (and the rest of the Western world) gets bigger and bigger.
The words are recorded in Matthew 23 and Luke 11. Addressing a crowd of listeners, Jesus said the following (Matthew 23:2-4, NIV; emphasis added):
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.
He went on to add this (Matthew 23:5-7):
Everything they do is done for people to see: … [T]hey love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces…
I’m sure we can acquit Mr. Kasich of loving the place of honor and the most important seat, or of loving being greeted with respect. But as long as he’s expanding Medicaid, he can’t be acquitted of putting heavy, cumbersome burdens on other people’s shoulders.
He ranges himself, in fact, alongside the modern politicians and pundits who do love places of honor and respectful greetings – and who heap burdens on other people and call it righteousness.
That’s not a practice I can find any support for in the Bible — in either the “new part” or the “old part.” The burden of government is extraordinarily heavy on the Western peoples today, most certainly including Americans. Our leaders have zero leeway now to lecture the people, on whom they have placed such heavy burdens, about righteousness.
They would be well advised to stop trying to use half-gulped, incoherent allusions to Holy Writ to shut their critics’ mouths. Many of us have read the Bible. We’ll be happy to have that conversation.