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The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about
Few Bible Belt pastors mention what's in their backyard, millions of poor people trapped in the Obamacare “coverage gap.”
November 8th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.

The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.

McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.

“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside.  Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”

McDonald’s congregation cheered, but his is a voice crying in the wilderness. He’s willing to condemn state leaders whose refusal to accept Obamacare has left nearly 5 million poor Americans without health coverage. But few of the most famous pastors in the Bible Belt will join him.

Joel Osteen? Bishop T.D. Jakes, and other prominent pastors throughout the South?

Like McDonald, they preach in states where crosses and church steeples dot the skyline yet the poor can’t get the health insurance they would receive if they lived elsewhere. All declined to comment.

When people talk about the Affordable Care Act, most focus on the troubled launch of its website. But another complication of the law has received less attention: a “coverage gap” that will leave nearly 5 million poor Americans without health care, according to a Kaiser Health Foundation study.

Learn more from Kaiser about the coverage gap in states that refused Obamacare

The coverage gap was created when 25 states refused to accept the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare. The people who fall into this gap make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and not enough to qualify for Obamacare subsidies in their state insurance exchanges. If they lived elsewhere, they would probably get insurance. But because they live in a state that refused the new health care law, they likely will remain among the nation’s uninsured poor after Obamacare coverage kicks in come January.

The coverage gap has been treated as a political issue, but there is a religious irony to the gap that has been ignored.

Most of the people who fall into the coverage gap live in the Bible Belt, a 14-state region in the South stretching from North Carolina to Texas and Florida. The Bible Belt is the most overtly Christian region in the country, filled with megachurches and pastors who are treated like celebrities.  All but two Bible Belt states have refused to accept the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

Should Bible Belt pastors say anything publicly about the millions of poor people in their communities stranded by the coverage gap? Is it anti-Christian for state leaders to turn down help for the people Jesus called “the least of these"? Or should pastors say nothing publicly about such issues because they are strictly political?

CNN's Sanjay Gupta explains who falls into the coverage gap

Who speaks for the poor in the coverage gap?

When these questions were sent to many of the most popular pastors in the Bible Belt, they hit a wall of silence. Virtually no prominent pastor wanted to talk about the uninsured poor in their midst.

Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in the nation, declined to be interviewed about the subject. So did Bishop T.D. Jakes. Their megachurches are both in Texas, the state with the nation’s highest number of people without health insurance.

Max Lucado, the best-selling Christian author who is a minister at a church in Texas, declined to speak; Charles Stanley, the Southern Baptist pastor in Georgia whose In Touch Ministries reaches millions around the globe, declined to speak; Ed Young Sr. and Ed Young Jr., a father and son in Texas who pastor two of the fastest-growing churches in the nation, also declined to speak. 

Bishop T.D. Jakes declined to talk about the millions of poor people stranded in the “coverage gap."

The list goes on.

The silence is not hard to understand. Obamacare is a polarizing political issue in the Bible Belt. A pastor who publicly weighs in on the subject could divide his or her congregation or risk their job. And some prominent pastors like Osteen are popular in part because they  do not alienate fans by taking political stands.

The Rev. Phil Wages, senior pastor Winterville First Baptist Church in Georgia and a blogger, was one of the few Bible Belt ministers willing to speak on the subject.

He says he won’t preach about the coverage gap created by the state’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion because he has what he calls theological differences with the thrust of the new health care law.

Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government. Early Christians were the first to create hospitals, orphanages and hospices.

“I have an issue with the government coming in to get money through me - through taxes - to take care of people, when my argument is that I should be free to give to charities or to my church in order to take care of the sick and destitute,” he says.

Wages says he has no doubt that lack of health insurance is a monumental problem, and that many people are poor because of circumstances beyond their control. Yet there is no New Testament example of Jesus trying to shape public policy on behalf of the poor.

“I do not see any biblical precedent where Jesus ever went to Herod or Pilate and said you should be taking care of the poor,” Wages says. “Jesus told his disciples to take care of the poor and the apostles said the same thing to the early church.”

Wages’ position is impractical and unbiblical, says Ronald Sider, a longtime advocate for the poor and author of “The Scandal of Evangelical Politics."

Churches and charities don’t have enough resources to take care of an estimated 48 million Americans who don’t have health care. The Bible is filled with examples of God's fury over economic oppression of the poor, which Christians should regard as scandalous, he says.

“If you are not sharing God’s concern for the poor, it raises huge questions about whether you are a Christian at all,” he says about pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor.

“As God’s spokespersons, you ought to be talking about God’s concern for the poor as much as God. In the richest nation in world history, it’s contradictory to have millions without health insurance.”

“It absolutely stinks”

The coverage gap may inspire a religious debate, but for its victims the issue is raw and personal.

A recent New York Times article about the coverage gap revealed that many of its victims are the working poor: cooks, cashiers, sales clerks and waitresses.

“These are people who are working people but they haven’t been able to afford health insurance or their employers don’t offer it and they’re stuck,” says Andy Miller, editor of Georgia Health News, a nonprofit news organization that covers health news in the state. “A lot of these folks have chronic health conditions.”

They are people like Shelley “Myra” Mitchell, a single mom with four children who makes $9 an hour working at a Chick-fil-A in Georgia. She makes $18,000 a year – too much for Georgia’s existing Medicaid program, but not enough to qualify for subsidies to sign up for Obamacare’s insurance marketplace in Georgia.

Mitchell’s voice grew edgy with frustration when asked to describe her health needs. She rang up about $20,000 in emergency room bills because she has no health insurance. She can’t afford to get pap smears, go to the dentist or get surgery for a two-year-old hernia. She can’t take medication for her depression and anxiety because she can’t afford it.

She thought she could get help under Obamacare but recently learned she can’t because Georgia did not accept the law’s Medicaid expansion.

“It stinks,” she says. “I’ve been dealing with this hernia for two years now, and I can’t get anyone to help me because I don’t have health insurance. It absolutely stinks.”

Why pastors should stay silent about the coverage gap

Mitchell’s plight may stink. But at what point should a pastor go public on such a complex issue, and what could he or she actually say?

Two prominent evangelical pastors openly wrestled with those questions.

Andy Stanley is one of the most popular evangelical pastors in the nation. He is the senior pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, a megachurch with at least 33,000 members. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “How to be Rich,” which urges Christians to be "rich in good deeds" instead of wealth. His church recently announced that it donated $5.2 million to Atlanta charities and provided another 34,000 volunteer hours.

Joel Osteen has the largest church in America. He also declined to speak about the coverage gap.

Stanley says the coverage gap disturbs him. The church cannot handle the needs of millions of uninsured people alone and should quit taking shots at government involvement, he says. But he adds that it’s not anti-Christian for political leaders in states like Georgia to turn down the Medicaid expansion for the poor.

“If you really want to know how concerned someone is for the poor ask them what percentage of their personal money they give to organizations that help the poor,” he says. “Ask them how much time they give to organizations that help the poor.”

Stanley says it would be difficult for any pastor to talk about the Medicaid expansion without addressing the entire law.

“I tried to imagine a scenario where I urged people to write our governor encouraging him to reconsider his decision regarding the expansion of Medicaid for the poor,” he says. “As I imagined that, I got the feeling that by the time I finished explaining the issue, people’s eyes would be glazed over.”

Pastors who don't preach one way or the other on Medicaid expansion aren't callous or apathetic, says Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. They may be suspicious of a bigger government and skeptical of whether this move will solve the problem.

“The Bible calls on Christians to answer the cries of the poor,” he says. “All Christians must do that. The question of the Medicaid expansion is a question of how we do that. I don’t hear many people arguing that we shouldn’t care about the plight of the poor when it comes to medical care. The question is a genuine debate about the role of the state.”

Moore says some people have a “utopian view” of what state power can accomplish.

“Government programs sometimes encourage dependency, unintentionally break down family structures, and become unsustainable financially,” Moore says.

Bob Coy, pastor of Calvary Chapel megachurch in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, wondered aloud about what he could, and should, say.

Florida, which has the second highest number of people without health insurance behind Texas, has not accepted the Obamacare Medicaid expansion.

Coy says he hasn’t spoken publicly about poor people missing health coverage in Florida. But he has called the governor to get more information.

“I’m not an activist guy. I don’t tell the government what to do. I am a church guy. I teach the Bible.”

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care for the poor, though, Coy says. He grew up in a poor family that couldn’t afford to go to the dentist. His church also spends a large percentage of its budget on serving the poor.

Coy says he is suspicious of large-scale programs that are publicly funded because they are often abused.

“One side of our society is saying, 'We need this,' while on the other side is saying, 'This isn’t fair and isn’t going to work.’ So how should a pastor, who has a heart to help people, respond?”

Why pastors should speak out

The Rev. Shane Stanford’s answer to Coy is simple: Talk about justice for the poor like Jesus did.

Stanford is the senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis and author of “Five Stones: Conquering Your Giants.”

He is also HIV-positive. He was born a hemophiliac and contracted the virus when he was 16 during treatment for his illness.

Stanford says he publicly speaks out about the millions of Americans stranded without health coverage because he knows how it feels. Once, after heart surgery, he was getting a transfusion when a nurse came into the room and pulled the needle out of his arm because she said he had maxed out his health insurance coverage.

He says standing up for people in the coverage gap is a matter of justice.

“Sometimes pastors have to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

Stanford ignores fellow pastors who counsel him to be silent about his state and others that refused to accept the Medicaid expansion.

“They say you have to be careful talking about political issues,” he says. “When I look at their lives, part of me thinks they never had that needle yanked out of their arm.”

Conservative pastors who urge their colleagues to avoid politics are hypocrites, says James Cone, a prominent theologian who has spent much of his career writing books condemning white churches for what he says is their indifference to social justice.

“When their own interests are involved, they are very much involved in politics,” Cone says. “Same-sex marriage and abortion – they have no trouble politically opposing them.”

Cone, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, says a nation is defined by how it treats its most vulnerable members. But there is an entrenched hostility to poor people in America that goes unchallenged by some white, conservative Christians, he says.

“When poor people get food stamps, they get mad,” Cone says. “When the rich and corporations get tax breaks and pay no taxes, they don’t say anything.”

McDonald, the pastor who spoke out on behalf of poor people from his Atlanta church, says Jesus provided universal health care. The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus healing marginalized people.

“He did it for free,” McDonald says of Jesus’ healing. “The reason the crowds gathered around Jesus primarily was for healing. People want wholeness.”

Perhaps the gap between Bible Belt pastors who say nothing about the uninsured poor and those who do is also rooted in history. 

Conservative Christians have traditionally emphasized providing charity to the poor - soup kitchens, donations to impoverished people in undeveloped countries - while progressive Christians have blended charity with calls for public policy changes that help the poor.

The distinction between both approaches was distilled by a memorable quote from the late Brazilian Roman Catholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara, who said: "When I feed the poor they call me a saint. When I ask why so many people are poor they call me a communist."

That may be changing as a new generation of evangelicals rise in the Bible Belt and elsewhere. One minister who speaks to them is the Rev. Timothy Keller, a conservative Christian author who pastors a megachurch in New York.

Keller is the author of “Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just,” a popular book that argues that evangelicals should do more than preach personal salvation; they must “speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves.” He is a role model for many younger evangelicals.

“God loves and defends those with the least economic and social power, and so should we. That is what it means to ‘do justice.’ ’’

CNN.com recently contacted Keller to see if he would talk about "Generous Justice" and how it might apply to health care and the poor. Did he think pastors in Bible Belt states should say anything publicly on behalf of poor people being denied basic medical insurance? His publicist said she would contact Keller with the request.

Several days later, she returned with Keller’s answer.

He had no comment. 

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Fundamentalism • Politics • Poverty

soundoff (3,619 Responses)
  1. amigay

    Three things I have noticed about so-called "Christians" – they are only interested in you if you can give them money, they are only interested in you until you are born (on your own after that), and they are only interested in the separation of church & state when it's convenient. These are what I call Professional Christians.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Phil

    Don't know what is worst... Obamacare or a mega church pastor!!??

    November 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
  3. daveinla

    an attack on red states by a left wing nut. I suppose communism would take care of us all, 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their need." Poor people already have free health care and housing in this country.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • sly

      Exactly – and those 50 milion Americans prohibited from obtaining health care don't deserve it.

      Most of them are war veterans with missing limbs, who simply want to milk our government for health care the rest of their lives. I ain't paying my tax dollars for some cripples! The rest are poor blacks, who don't need health care anyway.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • What Now

      I live in Texas and that is simply not true. We have one of the highest uninsured rates in the US. Your generalization is false.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Protagonist

      After weeks of bashing Obama Care, one op-ed piece and this is now a liberal site/liberal media. Is there any wonder why there is no reasonable debate in this county?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • John T

      Yea lets give the same level of health coverage to someone who sleeps on a bench all day. I guess medicaid and free health clinics isn't enough.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Areyouserious?

      A comment of obvious ignorance of the real plight of the poor and working poor in this country

      November 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  4. Ridiculous

    I love it when liberal news sites invest their time running Christians into the ground about what they are doing wrong, but could give a darn less when it comes to reporting all of the good they are doing. Does anyone not see through the agenda this pushes? What about the penalty those folks would pay for not having the money it takes to purchase this mandated insurance? On another note, what's really fascinating is the converse relationships such "news" sites have with Islam.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      I love it when liberal news sites invest their time running Christians into the ground about what they are doing wrong, but could give a darn less when it comes to reporting all of the good they are doing. Does anyone not see through the agenda this pushes? What about the penalty those folks would pay for not having the money it takes to purchase this mandated insurance? On another note, what's really fascinating is the converse relationships such "news" sites have with Islam.
      Hi, I'm the author of the piece. I do talk about the good people do in the piece, such as citing Andy Stanley's church and donation of millions to charities. You mention the "penalty" poor people would pay for not purchasing insurance. The penalty would not apply to poor people in states that refuse Obamacare.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Your article has certainly sparked a frenzy of commentary!
        For whatever its worth, I think you've presented this very contentious issue with an even hand.
        The rest of the developed world continues to scratch our heads when it comes to how divisive the idea of socailized medicine is in the US...

        November 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        The USA spends more on health care per capita than many other countries that have universal health care, which begs the question is it the health industry making exorbitant profit off of the backs of the poor and sick? How much greed is in the system?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • What Now

      Really? I believe the author starts the article by stating that it was a Reverand who brought up the issue. Healthcare is not a left or right issue. Why do some choose to make it so?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  5. Galactus

    Obamacare is a bait and switch tactic that will leave the states that take the Medicaid expansion with tens of billions of dollars in unfunded mandates. The states were correct to say NO WAY to Obamacare

    November 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  6. AAmir Khan

    Do the pastor and their families have insurance? or do they go to charitable clinics?

    November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  7. ryan

    I am a pastor in the Bible belt in a state that did not expand medicaid. I will answer if you want to contact me John.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  8. Jebus

    Organized religion is a giant scam designed to rob the gullible and molest the innocent.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  9. Doc Vestibule

    Robert Heinlein's first published story was about a scientist who invented a machine that could accurately predict someone's life span – pinpointing the exact day and time when they will die.
    Dr. Pinero was dragged before the courts by life insurance companies claiming that his invention would drive them out of business and that they're coroporate interests trump the general good.
    The end of the story is the Dr. having a brandy and cigar while waiting for the Insurance company's hitmen to come and kill him.

    Profit should not trump the general welfare of a nations citizenry.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
  10. LLBeenCool

    The author might want to consider one other reason for the silence he received from many pastors. CNN isn't exactly a trustworthy source for evangelical pastors to talk to. Instead of judging them for their silence, consider your employer's long history of misrepresenting and bashing the Christian right to their benefit. Quite honestly, the author was either foolish and/or audacious to think they really would want to talk to him. They care about the issue and the people, but they've been around long enough to know that CNN isn't the platform to speak to/from.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • David

      What would you have chosen to elicit a response from these pastors that couldn't speak their minds on CNN?

      November 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Hi I am the author of the piece, and I hear what you say. I shouldn't "judge" pastors because they won't talk to CNN because they know CNN is going to twist what they say out of context because of liberal bias. Your point, though, falls under minimal scrutiny. I've interviewed pastors like BIshop Jakes, Joel Osteen and Ed Young Jr. while at CNN. They were willing to talk to risk liberal bias to talk to me about their latest book or the newest worship trend in churches. For whatever reason, they didn't want to talk to me about this.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • Sky Wizard

        Boom. Roasted.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • Tim Brown

        Pastors do not want to be political opinionated on an issue like Obamacare because it is bad for business. If someone is clueless enough to go to church and give money to the preacher, they are also probably clueless about Obamacare as well and will generally believe what the corporate propaganda media tells them regarding it.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • JD

        John,
        Your article is troubling because you place all these so called pastors into a big boat and act as if they are uncaring about the illnesses of people. I am involved in one of those pastors churches and see first hand the large efforts that are put toward feeding the poor, providing medical solutions for the poor, supporting the homeless shelters, getting doctors to provide free help to the hurting, and encouraging the larger congregation to reach out and help neighbor to neighbor. While not addressing the insurance gap, the church I am involved in certainly attacks the problem with their own giving. Not enough attention is given in our country to neighbor to neighbor kindness. We expect the government will cover our personal responsibility to reach across the isle to those in need. Maybe that is where all of this misses the mark...

        November 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
        • Mike

          I've worked for one of these pastors too...no names mentioned. On one hand there is a lot being done. But, if I gave you a million dollars and told you to give 10% to the poor, would you do it? Of course you would! The proportion of funds that actually gets allocated to helping folks with real needs is a tiny margin! That is why I left!

          November 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • QS

      Please, tell me, what is a "trustworthy" source for disseminating conservative talking points through the lens of religion that they would feel comfortable using?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • David Stewart

      No I don't buy that about CNN being the root problem. It's just highly political and most Christians are anti-government anything as a top priority to even being charitable. It goes back along way, hatred for any type of socialism, oh but don't take away their Medicare!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  11. Joel

    Poor people have always qualified for gov't assistance i.e medicaid,TNcare and it has always been free. Obamacare is not free, these people you speak of cannot afford obamacare. Do your research, OBAMA must go.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • hrdwrknjoe

      Joel, your in luck. ACA now covers your mental illness and addictions.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jebus

      Do your research?

      What's it like to have Rush Limbough and Fake News doing all of your thinking for you?

      November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • David

      You really have no idea what this whole discussion is about. And you punctuate your argument with the only thing you truly care about...getting rid of our duly elected President that you do not like.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Lisa

      I totally agree with you here Joel.............this President has to go!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  12. Aaron

    This is the epitome of hypocrisy! The truth is that folks like Jakes, Dollar et al teach that poverty is a curse that you can faith your way out of by "planting seed" (aka giving money to the Church) in the Church and your problems will go away. These people don't advocate for education or social equity. They eat out of Republican hands because there is a symbiosis that exists between the Right and the Evangelical movement. We'll let you keep your 501c(3) status and your luxurious life and you keep these poor folks in line. This is why on the surface, religion seems like it brings good into the world. Once, you peel back the onion, you see a whole different picture altogether!

    November 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • QS

      So glad to know others out there see through the gimmicks and the sham that is religion as a whole.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • David Stewart

        It turns out to be a sham but we the people are to blame for that not God. People are blinded by their selfishness most often.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Eric

      You're right on! These people vote against their rational economic self interest and these churches are complacent in their poverty!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  13. Bob

    Forcing preachers to preach about the coverage gap is like trying to force John Blake to say something that is true. Neither one is going to happen.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  14. Gary L. Wimmer, Master of Lithomancy

    This is one of the best articles written about the outrageous hypocrisy of most so-called "Christians" and their pastors! One is not a true Christian unless one abides by what Christ preached, and charity in all forms – including helping the poor and sick – is what Christ was (is) all about. Great article! The deafening silence from the rich and powerful preachers is truly pathetic!

    November 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • QS

      Yet nobody seems to assign the blame deserved to those in the congregation who support conservative ideals through their church indirectly, whether or not they are or vote conservative.

      The people in these congregations may be democrats, they may need health insurance and they may be wishing the state would participate – yet they will go to these churches, donate money and support the lavish lifestyles of these pastors who are, by their silence, supporting the goal of trying to make the ACA fail.

      Credit where due.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Kevin B

      Read your Bible again Gary. To be a Christian is to accept Jesus as Christ. That is all.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • David

        So are you suggesting that Christ was a narcissist?

        November 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
      • ridgewilliam

        Check again Kevin, that is not all.

        Luke 16:19-31
        Jesus said, "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, `Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, `Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.' He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house– for I have five brothers– that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' He said to him, `If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'"

        November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • glenview0818

      If the state does not accept the ACA Obamacare, then they have to provide an equal program, no one is left out. This is political bantering.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  15. Religion

    The single accomplishment of the conservative movement in America has been to convince millions of weak minded individuals that selfishness, greed, and hatred of the poor are good, Christian values.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • QS

      Yeppers!

      Like I always say – conservatism and religion usually walk hand-in-hand....over other people.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
  16. hrdwrknjoe

    We Pastafarian's want Health Care and Ravioli for all. We don't bleed the poor out of their few dollars with promises of riches later. We pour out marinara freely and abundantly. We don't have make-up smeared across our faces with pink 3' hair begging for a jet. We don't promise we'll heal you from your crippling disease so you can walk down the aisle to give us money. All we offer is Linguini and lots of it. Fridays are holidays and parmesan is sprinkled freely.

    But be afraid you lowly Teapublican Taliban Klan members! Keeping health care from the poor and withholding food (SNAP) including pasta will get you a term of forever in boiling salt water with a little olive oil.

    May the Spaghetti Monster in the Sky strain and al dente your actions
    Marinara Marinara Marinaa

    RAmen

    November 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Strgazr

      I love you.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • hrdwrknjoe

        Right back at you.

        November 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • krankenstein111

      Funniest stuff i read all day dude, Kudos

      November 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • sly

      Why the hell do poor people need health care anyway, when they can eat pasta and cake.

      Nothin' more annoying than a poor person asking for health care ... can't they just all go away?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  17. steve

    Every one of the 25 states rejecting the Medicaid expansion has a Republican governor. Of course they don't want Obamacare; they know that people will like it once they get it. It's their last chance to deny their own citizens coverage. How ironic that Texas and Florida have the most uninsured people , two states with so many" Christians". I always thought helping people was Christianity's purpose. These preachers are a joke for not having the courage to speak up. So the church is going to take care of the uninsured people? Hows that working out for them? Any uninsured person who does'nt sign up is making a big mistake. And yes, most of them are in the south. Wake up, do it for your kids, when you go to the emergency room we all pay for it, and its the most expensive care.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Buck

      It is not true that "every one of the 25 states rejecting the Medicaid expansion has a Republican governor," nor is it true that all Republican governor's rejected the expansion.
      The reason the ACA was split into these two pools (Medicaid expansion and Healthcare.gov) was to hide the costs of Obamacare. And how ironic that you skipped Nevada (22.5% uninsured) and New Mexico (21%), followed closely by California (19%) when talking about states with the most uninsured.
      The ironic thing about Liberals is that the want all of America to look and act the same. Heaven forbid any state choose to let the voters in that state elect their own governor and their own legislators to pass laws that they agree with.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  18. John

    Why would churches take an anti-government stance when they reap so many benefits as churches from the government in the waving of taxes? They won't. Despite sharing a non-profit status with organizations like Habit for Humanity, churches, or religious organizations in general, are afforded carte blanche on taxes that those other non-profits do not. Hell, go to a Barnes and Noble and find multiple books on how to start a religion to avoid tax. I think if everyone paid their fair share, like say the enormous property tax for that billion dollar church you just built, programs like Medicaid would have more funding.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • krankenstein111

      That would be a great idea john, but that extra money is tied up in payouts to the young alter boys whose lives were ruined by Father Sullivan and his desire to touch little boys.

      November 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
  19. John

    I find this interesting. What happens in 5 yrs when the Federal government no longer reimburses the states the full amount for medicare? The states then have to make up the difference. This new cost to the states might be massive. No one knows yet.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • David

      They reimburse them at 90%. Did you think of mentioning that?

      November 8, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • fedup

      The idea was to get individuals in the system over the 5 years. Projections show by then there should be enough in to drive the costs down enough to drop premiums to a point equivilent to the subsidies. Costs are always high at first but the more participation the easier it is to cover the risk of a statistical few accross your other healthier policy holders. Yes it is a pyramid sceme but ALL insurances are!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.