Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

A Surprising Reason Some Still Don’t Like Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) has slowly become more popular as Americans discover that the law has lowered the number of people without health insurance and provided baseline benefits to millions of us (preventive care, youth coverage under parents until age 26, doing away with pre-existing conditions, etc.), without causing massive social or health care disruption.

Critics of the ACA cite ideals like letting the marketplace sort things out, rather than relying on government intervention to do so. Of course, the individual mandate, the requirement to be insured, was scaled back by the late 2017 tax reform law–such that people on the individual insurance market will be able to opt out in 2018 and beyond if they choose without penalty (even though the US Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the mandate is constitutional).

Recently, a reader sent me a fascinating article about why some evangelical Christians also dislike Obamacare. It’s known as crucicentrism.

Not all evangelicals hold this worldview. According to a source cited in the article, about one quarter of evangelicals espouse this viewpoint.

Still–what does it mean? From the aforementioned article:

To secure a permanent place at God’s side is far more important than any short-lived torment to the body. From this perspective, then, the greatest kindness one can show others is to help them reach the salvation of the Cross.

Such a crucicentrist view on compassion explains puzzling statements by white evangelicals like Mark Green, a Tennessee state senator. “Sickness,” Green told a church group, “is one of the main avenues that bring people to religion.” In the Gospels, he said, “every person who came to Christ came to Christ with a physical need. It was either hunger or a disease.” When the government created the ACA it did a “great injustice” because, Green explained, by helping people regain their health, it had limited “the Christian church’s role” and robbed sick individuals of the opportunity “to come to a saving knowledge of who God is.” People who fell ill would now look “to the government” instead of to God.

In this worldview, suffering is seen as a pathway to faith, which will lead to salvation. And, I presume, better health.

Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. After all, institutions have always needed members, missions, and money to maintain their existence over millennia.

But I do find this inclination shockingly uncharitable.

What do you think?


  1. Kaye M Reeves

    By their reasoning, all suffering should tend to draw people closer to God, so the government ought to end all social welfare programs and randomly torture the citizenry.

  2. Amy Dole

    Why can’t people be afforded the opportunity to go to their faith (or new faith) and pursue treatment from healthcare entities (insurance and medical providers)?

  3. Martina Jelley

    Very strange ideas. As a Christian, I find any effort to deny health care to a person in distress sad and shameful.

  4. Paul deMena

    Ouch! As a white evangelical Christian, it was painful for me to read Senator Green’s remarks. I agree with you, John, that these remarks are shockingly uncharitable. They are also unbiblical. “What does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV). Certainly, Senator Green does not speak for Christians. It’s true that Christians believe the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross makes possible the redemption of humanity, but “crucicentrism” is not synonymous with Senator Green’s position. To me, his statement seems more Machiavellian than Christian. Personally, I don’t know any Christians who would say that helping people regain their health is a bad thing! In Ms. Reynaud’s article, she suggests several other reasons why some evangelical Christians might oppose the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including economic and partisan-political reasons. From the conversations I have had with some Christians who oppose the ACA, these are their main objections.

  5. Jennae B.

    Finally, you have given me a term to explain the painfully bizarre lunch conversation I recently had with a devoutly evangelical Christian co-worker. In response to a front page article about an arrested child abuser, and his complicit wife, on the nearby copy of our local paper, I bemoaned the cruel things parents do to innocent children. My companion actually said that we need this suffering in our world for exactly the “recruitment tool” role you describe. When I protested, she went in to explain that with out violence, disease and starvation in our world, we could never develop true compassion. All this suffering was “Gods way” of bringing out the Christian caring in the world, and so was a most essential part of bring us to heaven. Homeless addicts on the street, prostitution, child abuse and even diabetic amputations were all her God’s plan for winning us over. In the most respectful way I could, I related that I could never worship an omnipotent god that chooses pain,plagues, and incest as tools for bringing on our further bowing.
    Within two weeks, her husband, a pastor(!), had found her a job at a Christian bookstore. Before leaving she explained that I and another co-worker unknowingly leading her astray. Her husband was saving her with the job move.
    I can promise you, crucicentrism in exactly the Obamacare context is a very real belief for some “Christians”. I still wonder about the safety of her and all the children in her husband’s church.

  6. Thomas Benzoni

    This is the logic that was used to justify slavery.
    It is necessary to call it out when it rears its head.

  7. Aletha Oglesby, M.D.

    Although I do not like labels, I could be considered an evangelical Christian. I have never heard the term crucicentrism. I agree with the others that it is neither Biblical nor mainstream Christian. Many Christians would say that all healing comes from God, whether through medical care or supernaturally, or both. I do not believe that I and other Christian medical professionals donate time both here and abroad to provide health care to the needy just so we can preach to them. On the contrary, we work and pray that they may be fully restored to health so they can be productive and contribute to their communities, including their local church. A need for medical care should not be one’s prime motivation for a spiritual experience. Thanks for sharing this interesting but disturbing viewpoint.

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