“God and Obama Care” was an Opinion Letter in New Scientist Magazine, Oct 2013. It caught my attention for obvious reasons. It’s from Rev. Dr. Derek Suchard’s review of Ara Norenzayan’s book, “Big Gods: How religion transformed cooperation and conflict.”
A reader “wonders why the U.S., one of the most economically developed countries, is still among the most religious.” Has that thought ever crossed your mind? After all, citizens of prosperous nations with good schools are more likely to understand science and reject superstition. A good education leads to reasonable thinking and the rejection of supernatural claims. Modernity and science invalidate Iron Age religious beliefs. I am not surprised if you wondered about this as I do.
I admit it, I’ve always wondered why The U.S. has so many true believers and so few non-believers. Now, I think I’ve found the answer.
According to the opinion in New Scientist Magazine, this is where Obama Care enters the discussion. The general principle is: When people are secure in their lives and well cared for, they are not occupied with belief in an afterlife or adherence to a life of worship. Only those people with inadequate health care and an insecure future feel they must search elsewhere for security. Socialized medicine and universal health care have provided a relatively secure environment for populations of most developed nations with the exception of the U.S. In spite of what you might have thought, less privileged Americans, like people in underdeveloped nations, need a Godly Health Care Plan because they don’t have a government plan. It is the only one they can afford.
Fact: The U.S. has the most expensive and least comprehensive health care of all the modern industrialized nations. The majority of Americans, those without any health insurance and those without adequate health insurance, feel insecure. They worry about their health and the health of their children. This discomforting feeling makes them more likely to search for divine security, in a compassionate God. They seek comfort in the knowledge that an all-powerful deity is looking out for them in this world and in the after life. It makes them feel good. Whatever happens, they believe God is with them. Extremists, like Christian Scientists and some Evangelical sects and cults have so much faith in God, they rather let their children die than bring them to a doctor. They believe sincere prayer is superior to modern health care.
In the U.S., this kind of religious extremism is primarily found in those economic groups that are low paid or without jobs. They can’t afford good health insurance so they go without, or buy crummy insurance plans, or are satisfied with their employers crummy plans. When millions of Americans can’t afford to buy adequate health security, religion is their next and only option. Security in this life and the next is relatively inexpensive if all one needs to do is pray for god’s blessing and protection. Religious leaders want their followers to buy Godly health plans. The most it will cost believers is a Sunday morning offering.
As you know, compared to the religious U.S., other developed nations are non-religious and their empty churches must be subsidized by their governments. Their churches don’t play much of a role in their lives. Their socialized health care soothes the worried mind and effectively takes the place of a God who promises divine health care. While their churches are empty, hospitals and clinics are filled with grateful patients. In addition, effective preventative health care, provided by socialized medicine is leading to healthier populations and lower medical costs. Preventative health care will result in populations who live longer and are healthier into their old age. Health care costs will fall in these nations. Religion is no longer needed for that good old feeling of security and peace of mind. Socialized medicine seems to make sense. Yes, I know, “socialized medicine” is supposedly a communist practice that will rot your mind and destroy the nation. I don’t believe it and neither should you. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should convince you of that.
Perhaps the above theory is too simplistic. No doubt there are other factors involved in the high level of U.S. religiosity. I wouldn’t be surprised.
The U.S., with Obama Care, is belatedly entering a new era, an era of socialized medicine, which promises to give health coverage to all regardless of how much money they have. Once Americans feel secure concerning health care issues, they may decide they no longer need God’s impotent health care plan. I wouldn’t be surprised.