In October 2013, a program entitled “Health Care from the Pulpit” was introduced by Enroll America, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to increase enrollment in services provided by the Affordable Care Act among the previously uninsured. They intend to bring churches of different faiths together to “be engaged in the education and outreach efforts around the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period.” Programs like “Health Care from the Pulpit” have existed for centuries and in a number of national contexts. The greatest example occurred during the spread of the smallpox vaccine in France in the early 19th century.
This past summer, a judge in New York City ruled against three families who filed suit against the public school system, claiming their right to free exercise of religion was violated when their unvaccinated children were barred from school. In another case last year, a measles outbreak sickened unvaccinated members of a large church in Texas, drawing claims the church had discouraged vaccinations. The church later hosted vaccination clinics, and a spokesman denied the church had ever advised against vaccines. These public episodes seemingly pit immunization against faith. Yet Christians have a long history of promoting vaccines.