What would Jesus do? Well, Ed Schultz thinks he knows - that is on health care reform at least.
Schultz, on his Sept. 2 MSNBC program, "The ED Show" told viewers he believed Jesus would vote for a government public option. That, he said, was to the dismay of some on religious right, or what he used the pejorative "Bible thumpers" to describe.
"Now, I have been referring to the health care reform deal as the real moral issue of our time," Schultz said. "I believe Jesus would vote yes for a public option, but some Bible thumpers don't see me eye to eye on this one."
Schultz later elaborated on his statement, likening "fixing health care" to a moral obligation.
"Fixing health care in this country is a moral obligation," Schultz said. "There isn't any way around it, at least that's how I see it and I think the public option to make health care affordable and accessible is a key, fulfilling moral obligation in this country. But some religious leaders don't agree with me on that."
Schultz lamented that some religious leaders had been campaigning against the Democratic-controlled Congress and White House's idea for so-called health care reform. He cited a letter from church leaders in Kansas that were concerned with the government's involvement in medicine.
"Take for example Catholic leaders in Kansas who teamed up to put out this letter about health care reform with this statement: ‘The teaching of the universal church has never been to suggest a government socialization of medical services. Rather the church has asserted the rights of every individual to have access to those things most necessary for sustaining and caring for human life while at the same time insisting on the personal responsibility of each individual to care properly for his or her own health,'" Schultz read.
He then cited the president, saying it was a "moral obligation" and asked his guest, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, what his position was. Perkins said it was indeed a moral obligation, but not a government obligation.
"Well at first, let me say I do believe we have some problems in our health care system in America today," Perkins said. "And I would agree with you that we do have a moral obligation to care for our neighbors. This is where we disagree. The issue is the selective lifting of scriptures of the teachings of Jesus, like from Matthew Chapter 25 that Al Gore used over the weekend that are actually teachings to the church and to fellow Christian followers of Jesus to care for others. And I'm thankful that that has historically been the view because it was churches and religious people who established the hospitals in this country. And we do have an obligation to care for the poor. But it's not the government's obligation."
Schultz said the people were the government, so the obligation of the government was inclusive, according to Perkins' standard. However, Perkins pointed out for the MSNBC host that the politically left-of-center seem to be willing cite scripture when expedient, but tend to get worked up when those on the right do the same thing, which he referred to as a double standard and even questioned if those on the left understood what they were citing.
"There's this double standard," Perkins said. "When the conservative uses scripture, the media goes into convulsions saying they're trying to create a theocracy. When the liberals use scripture, they just report it I guess because they know they don't mean it."