This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Health care and prayer

On May 4, the National Day of Prayer, the U.S. House of Representatives completed the first step toward passing the American Health Care Act. When members of Congress gathered at the White House to celebrate, one might have expected the event to be about extolling the virtues of the AHCA. However, the major message was the victory of Trumpcare over Obama­care, no matter how premature the celebration was (the Senate still has to vote on the AHCA).

The major concern is whether the AHCA is fostering hope, courage and trust or, instead, cultivating fear, anxiety or cynicism. While the content of the bill is essential in addressing this concern, the rhetoric through which it is communicated is vital.

The communication of the AHCA is partially responsible for reviving the concept of “blue lies,” which swap truth for trust. The message of blue lies is: “I don’t care if you believe me, but trust me.” Ironically, blue lies are frequently accentuated with statements like “trust me” or “believe me” — which should be unnecessary if the speaker expects the audiences to believe or trust them.

Americans expect our national leaders to display some degree of piety. However, unless our leaders have the moral integrity to act on their pious proclamations, their words become blue lies.

The AHCA is not giving people hope that their health insurance premiums will be affordable or that they will be able to acquire policies to cover pre-existing illnesses. Instead, the AHCA is raising the levels of anxiety, fear and cynicism, especially because tax cuts for the wealthy are one of the few certainties.

If our elected officials took the National Day of Prayer seriously, they might consider the words of the prophets Micah and Zechariah, who called for acting justly, loving mercy and not oppressing the widow, the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Let me paraphrase the prophets: Don’t wrap your tax cuts for the wealthy in a shroud for the poor and call it a health-care package. And please, not on the National Day of Prayer.

Bruce Bradshaw
Nashua, N.H.

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