About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Yet another example of Evangelical "compassion"

Market Place, the National Public Radio show on financial matters, has aired a disturbing segment concerning the increasingly popular practice of Christian-based medical insurance (a concept similar, I guess, to the Christian jail bonds agencies scattered throughout the south).

The idea is that companies like "MediShare" charge their members a fee that may give them access to help for medical bills when needed, if certain conditions apply. The conditions include the referral by an evangelical pastor (because, as we all know, only Christians deserve help from other Christians -- regardless of whatever Jesus may have said), no smoking, no drinking, and of course no extra-marital sex (it isn't clear how the latter "condition" is ascertained). Fail to live up on any of these restrictions, and you won't get the benefits you have been promised and have paid for.

Moreover, you won't get benefits if you have an ample spectrum of preexisting conditions, for example medical problems that manifested themselves 30 years earlier, or genetic abnormalities like Down syndrome (I guess that's a clear sign that God didn't like you, so...). Should you get upset about this sort of treatment, you will be dropped by the Christian insurance company if you sue them.

The problem here is not only that these companies are allowed to do things that secular insurance companies are prohibited by law, which is bad enough. The really disturbing trend in this nation is the largely Christian-driven fracture of our society, where we now have Christian music, movies, stores, schools, bail bonds, medical insurance, and what not. Despite the fact that we are constantly told that “united we stand.” This seems so patently anti-Christian and lacking in anything like true compassion that should be appalling to every decent human being. And, given that Christians are in fact the large majority in the US (despite their cries of being somehow persecuted in the public arena), it is a good step toward establishing a theocracy -- especially when the government actively encourages "faith based" initiatives of all sorts. Except, of course, when it comes to defense, where old fashioned weaponry is somehow still superior to the will of God.


  1. I tried to listen at the link but the program doesn't seem to want to play on my computer. Drat!

    In any case, I'm not sure that I would be opposed to "Christian" health insurance. These are grown-ups with the constitutional right of free association. If they want to buy into one of these plans, well it's their money and their choice. If their fellow Christians screw them over, I'm neither surprised nor sorry.

    Eat well, stay fit, die anyway.

  2. I listened to the link. It seems that for many people, this is "an offer they can't refuse", because they can't afford anything else. Of course, if too many people opt for this kind of plan, it could hurt any efforts to achieve universality in a public health care system, while at the same time, the managers of the plan would be free to discriminate, much like the faith-based charities that are free to discriminate in hiring.

    It seemed from the sound byte that
    the "evangelical pastor" recommends you for membership, and once you're in, you're in. That's only half bad. But what if the securing of benefits is contingent on keeping up your status? Could be scary. What would happen, for example, if your 15-year old son, who recently declared himself an atheist (after joining the library), developed a serious illness? Could he conceivably be denied benefits? What if you start going to a mega-church with no particular affiliation? All sounds like too many loopholes to me.

  3. Caveat emptor.

    You can't save people from their own stupidity, whether it's in what myths they believe in or what kind of health insurance they freely buy.

    And regarding the "fracturing" thing, I think it's natural for people to "divide" along lines of interest: religion, politics, hobbies, etc. That doesn't worry me. It only worries me when it starts driving the way people run the country and write laws. If you want to use the word "Jesus" in every sentence, go for it (just as long as I can walk away from you.)

  4. I agree with Die Anyway and Adrienne. People are free to enter into the relationships they choose. I also think its natural as Adrienne points out for people of common interests to create niche markets for each other.

    While I am as leary as a theocracy as the next guy, I don't necessarily want to paint everything with that brush (though its tempting).

  5. Guys,

    I think you are missing my two main points. Yes, people are free to join such organizations, but:

    * This is a disturbing trend increasing the divisions in our society. That doesn't mean I'm calling for a legal ban on it, but it is disturbing nonetheless!

    * Also, since these groups are under the cloak of religious organizations, they are exempt from the standard government overseeing that applies to regular insurance companies. Which means they can get away with practices that should be illegal, and are certainly unethical.

  6. This reminds me of the theme part that gets away TAX FREE because it has a religious mission statment. Yes, a profit making entity with a religious mission statement can get away with it. Religion is quickly becoming the biggest tax fraud and loophole in IRS history.

    When in reality it is nothing more than a sham.

  7. By the way, does anybody know why religiously oriented busin... I mean organizations have this "tax exempt" status?



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