“Among the more perplexing actors in the political arena are those who purport to rely on Jesus’ words to justify ignoring the needs of lower-income citizens. Congressman Roger Marshall is one of those actors. The now candidate for the United States Senate explained his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion by quoting Jesus for the proposition that 'The poor will always be with us.' Marshall conveniently, or perhaps ignorantly, left out the associated Biblical message upon which the scripture is based that teaches that the circumstance of widespread poverty requires people to be generous and open-handed with their neighbors."
But Marshall is consistent in his thinking on many key health issues. For example, in a leadership position he held at the Great Bend hospital, Marshall spearheaded the effort to not take Medicaid patients, shoving them off on surrounding rural hospitals. His strong support for repealing the Affordable Care Act without any viable replacement is another case in point. Among other harms to Kansans, such action would seriously impact people with preexisting conditions.
For some Republican Kansas Legislators that thinking may explain how they not only justify voting against expansion of Medicaid for thousands of Kansans in need of care, but also disregard the doctors and hospitals providing the care and their financial survival. Additionally strange is how these very conservative folks are okay sending our tax dollars to Washington D.C. to be distributed to the vast majority of states accepting Federal money to expand Medicaid.
Misuse of the Bible for political gain is just wrong but almost as disturbing is the pervasive silence of religious leaders when it happens. I understand not personalizing criticism to the point of sharing a candidate's name, but at least they might suggest to citizens when evaluating candidates who they might support to check to see if their favored candidates generally reflect their own personal religious beliefs.
I taught a high school Sunday School class for about ten years and have no recollection of any material I used that communicated ignoring the needs of our fellow citizens was okay and backed by scripture. I do not recall at any time any Pastor I have ever known who ever found ignoring the obvious needs of people in the area, as well as those afar, as an acceptable option.
Let me be clear. I would never have made this charge against Senators Dole, Kassebaum, Pearson, or any others for that matter. As far as I know, misusing scripture was not an argument used by Republicans in the past and for that matter many other Republicans today. Given all the critical health-related issues we have today, and not just COVID-19, the facts are clear that disadvantaged folks, regardless of why, are clearly in need of help and we have an obligation to provide aid directly or through our support of government programs.