61% of Americans say they favor a government guarantee of health care for all, even if it means raising taxes.
When we get down to cases, the Pew Forum found that the proposals on the table split the population evenly - 42% for and 44% against.
A coalition of liberal religious groups, Faith for Health, backs universal health care. A coalition of conservative religious groups, the Freedom Federation, opposes government health care. Freedom Federation favors more choice and incentives, but holds back from saying the government should guarantee health care coverage for all.
The system we have now, in which the government guarantees health care for sizable hunks of the population - old people, children, poor people, veterans, government workers - is added to a system in which most people get their health insurance through work. That reaches perhaps 85% of the population. Some of the remainder are actually eligible for health insurance, but don't take it.
Still, even with a large government guarantee and a strong system of health insurance for workers, some fraction - say, 10%, or about 30 million Americans - are without health insurance. I don't see any good way to cover them without a government mandate and some kind of government money.
So, is universal health care a religious issue? The Washington office of my denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), says yes. 56% of mainline Protestants, including the PC (USA), say yes. I say yes.
I think a church that says yes to this question has two options. Either the church supports a state mandate for health insurance for all, or the church offers to provide health care for those who can't afford it.