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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. nik a

    I hate to say it, but after working for a credit union for years, the poor will not pay their insurance bill even if they sign up and qualify for subsidies. The poor, for the most part do not handle their finances very well. This may be due to lack of education or just having to make a choice – pay for food or pay for health insurance. They know they will still be able to go to the ER and get treated. Regardless, the middle class is still going to pay for the poor's healthcare whether the state has Obamacare or not.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  2. FS

    Jehovah's witnesses are standing up high ubove any so called "Christian" organization!

    November 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
  3. jim

    Jesus never asked gov or people to heal the sick and feed the poor on a trillion national debt paid on a Chinese credit !

    November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • sly

      Jesus preferred spending 10 TRILLION to murder 500,000 dark skinned people in Iraq to find Bin Laden.

      That's why the TeaBillieKlan voted to increase the debt 8 (EIGHT) years in a row under Bush. But when a black skinned President tries to increase the debt, the Klan gets their panties all in a bun.

      Besides – damn us war veterans without hands or legs don't deserve to milk my tax dollars by being allowed health care. I say, if they don't have a hand or leg, they aren't a whole American anyway, and thats why we prohibit them from health services.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  4. Suzy

    Please...let's make a distinction between Roman Catholics and these other Christian faiths. Catholics believe that it is a human right to be able to have health care and access to medicine and doctors. So sorry for all you crazies out there that have no empathy for your fellow man. And for you so-called "Christians," you need to get to know Jesus Christ a little bit better.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  5. Moses

    CNN reports this as a scandal. With all thats going on in the WH. CNN reports this as a scandal. JOKE TIME.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • patrick

      google Joel Osteen net worth and then house.... what kind of preacher has a 40 Million dollar net worth? LOLOL if people are that stupid and buy all this religious crap then more power to Joel and the other wackos! Just make sure he they all pay their taxes IRS!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Chris Honry

    THEY DO ADDRESS IT!

    They talk about those who don't want to work should not eat.

    I've heard Joel O'Steen tell people to not be complacent, get off their rears and go to night school and better themselves.

    TOO MANY of these "poor" are just LAZY. THEY WANT $20 an hour with no skills, because they made LIFE CHOICES to not finish high school, to not go to tech or college, they want someone else to bail them out.

    LOOK LOOK! ! ! AT Careerbuilder . com there are THOUSANDS of open jobs in every big city! But they don't need unskilled losers they need people who have SKILLS.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bunny

      If you want to understand how the poor get that way and have a hard time reversing their fortune, read a book called "Random Family". Shocking but enlightening, not bleeding heart but raw truth. Gets your head out of the sand real quick.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  7. Ralph

    All these big pastors want is money. Money that goes into buying themselves fancy cars, and huge multimillion dollar homes. If they truly were messengers of god, they'd live like he did and give all the money to people in need. They wouldn't live in these multimillion dollar homes, they'd be living in very modest homes. Their nothing but con men hiding behind a book, taking advantage of people with little to give. They take THEIR MONEY SO THEY CAN LIVE THE LIFE OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  8. pauleky

    Because the vast majority of them are Republicans, and they don't want to say or do anything that could make the President look good. Add in the racism that still runs rampant in certain parts of that area and it's easy to see why they don't speak up. Of course, if there is a Heaven, they'll never see it.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  9. Ruth

    Please I have seen first hand how"poor" you say these people are....first they have 7,8,9 or more children out of wedlock with each child having a different father,this is where you start,normal adults have a child "if " and "when" they can afford a child,that is what a responsible person does,but no one wants to talk about this problem in America. For each child they get food stamps,a free place to stay ,no one has to work and they make more money than a person working for minimum wage,so do not tell me they are poor.Then they sell their EBT ,SNAP card for money and buy cars,go to strip joints,stay at a nice hotel buy lobster,crab legs all the food I can not afford.Then they have the nerve to go to the food bank to get free food,the local free clothing store,each of their children get free school supplies ,free winter coats,gloves,hats , shoes( all this teaches them is that someone,no matter who,and they have not a clue who gives them this free stuff that you do not have to work for anything)...they have been on welfare for so long they are unemployable anymore and they like it that way.I do not want to pay for someones irresponsibility for having these kids,not when there is a drugstore on every corner....they work the system and I am sick of it...they do not own a home ,they rent ,yet all their children use the public school system that is paid for by "homeowners" and even school levies are not passing because the baby boomers are tired of paying for mega schools that turn out idiot kids ,even the ones going on to college have to take math and english before they can take college courses...and yet you want haed working people to pay for their healthcare too?.....please obama can take care of this by quit going on $100 million dollar vacations...this man in office is giving so much away for votes ,that is how he got in ,HE BOUGHT VOTES THROUGH POVERTY,so put the blame on the poor

    November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • pauleky

      What color is the sky in your world?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
      • Chris Honry

        RUTH TELLS THE TRUTH, what color is the sky in your Iibtard world?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Chris Honry

      YOU TELL TRUTH, PEOPLE CAN'T HANDLE, don't WANT the TRUTH. These are life choices not poverty. This liberal RAG wants to blame anyone but the individuals who REFUSE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR OWN LIVES AND CHOICES.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        I'm going to GUESS that you're WHITE, middle-class, Christian and HAVE never WANTED for anything serious IN your life.
        (random capitalization IS fUn)

        November 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
      • QS

        LMAO! The "personal responsibility" myth that conservatives lug around with them everywhere they go is as comical at this point as their worship of Reagan!

        November 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Do you prefer a three pointed style or the traditional beanie for your tin-foil hat?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • QS

      I really wish this format had an up/down voting system – sometimes you just want to down-vote a completely asinine comment without having to actually respond to it.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • ME II

      Overgeneralize much?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Bunny

      You obviously are hurting. Read over what you said and then think about what your life would be like if everything you now have is tragically taken from you. Where will your words get you then?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Larry L

      Right-wingers tend to offer only Fox News generalizations and sound-bites. Senator Barry Goldwater was a compassionate conservative – something not understood by the Tea Party radicals. He was smart enough to understand the whole problem – aware that some people are dishonest (and lazy) and others work hard just to survive. Many of the people hurt by not accepting the expansion of Medicaid are children, handicapped, or the elderly just getting by on Social Security.

      America can't solve it's problems with hateful speech and conspiracies spread by the hate-based media. We need real solutions rather than a constant rant based on purposeful distortions and blatant obstructionism. I want to see the Republican Party actually offer some solutions. Maybe those who still care about America can come out of the shadows and become compassionate conservatives we can get behind.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Sharon

    I've not heard much about companies getting away with cutting employees hours just to avoid the healthcare dilema
    My sister works in a bakery for a well-known market – been there 12 years – usually 35 to 40 hours weekly that inculded an average healthcare package... not no more... her insurance has been eliminated and her hours cut to 28.
    Making less money and has to purchase healthcare – How are companies getting away with this??

    November 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • amigay

      Because, for all the good the ACA might accomplish, the politicians are still owned by corporate interests and they are worried more about their jobs than your health.

      Ever wonder why we refer to our 'representatives' as politicians rather than statesmen? There really is a BIG difference.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  11. jackedup

    And these so called "religous leaders" wonder why so many of us have strayed from the church?? Look unto yourself...

    November 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
  12. krankenstein111

    Start a movement now..............if you are sick and dont have insurance, move to texas and bankrupt those hillbillies. You deserve healthcare, they deserve to go broke.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • PDS777

      Wow...Liberalism is such a disease.

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

    Just say it – we're writing this for the Obama administration, and although we're not too religious ourselves, we think we know what religious leaders in another part of the country should be doing better than they do.
    Pretending this is news is shameful.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  14. Ben Beauka

    My, my, my, does this mean that the morally bankrupt Liberals are now going to embrace religion. LMAO

    November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • amigay

      I'll bet Joel (no comment) Osteen (he of the big teeth and great hair) is a Republican. Talk about morally bankrupt.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • David

      I'm consider myself liberal and I also consider myself Christian. My definition of liberal is 'open to new ideas'. Politically, I consider myself an Independent. But I have noticed over the last decade or so is that the Democrats are the ones who have programs to help the poor and the Republicans are not. It seems like the Republicans talk a lot about being Christian but when it gets down to 'doing the walk', they act quite the opposite. All the cable channels talk about the hot topics; gay marriage and abortion. But nobody wants to talk about feeding the hungry and taking care of our fellow human beings. Jesus helped the poor. He didn't judge them. Maybe these pastors can't take a public stand but if Christ is in their hearts, they all would go to their representatives and tell them to do the right thing and forget about the politics. Since this isn't happening it saddens me on the future of Christianity. My faith is strong. I'm praying for the poor, much of whose faith is strong, that the teachings of Jesus will prevail.

      P.S. I would recommend not watching any, I repeat, any cable TV news station. Read articles and use your common sense.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  15. JomoDaMusicMan

    Many of you people fail to realize that TD Jakes was a big supporter of GWB and like the many of the other pastors reside in Texas, which has always been a RED STATE. Maybe, if TD speaks out, the Tea Baggin Repubs will tax his church for mixing religion & politics

    November 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Topher

      Exactly right. While I disagree with those men theologically, it would benefit them to NOT speak out on this subject.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      in 2005, T.D. Jakes spoke out publicly with Pres. Bush besides him about the poor treatment Katrina victims were getting. To cite a little history, MLK spoke out against the Vietnam War and poverty and there was no worry about tax exempt status. Ron Sider told me during out interview that a pastor didn't have to say support Obamacare or not, but simply say something - any general platitude – about the poor who won't receive any help. Finally, pastors have spoken out on other political issues like same-sex marriage and abortion.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • ME II

        The church – tax rules, I think, are specific to endorsing candidates or telling followers to vote a certain way. "Issues" have pretty much always been fair game.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Topher

        John BlakeCNN

        Jakes and "W." ... So he was WITH government. No worries there.
        MLK ... Completely different era in which the church was flourishing compared to today ... not continuously threatened with tax status revocations.
        Marriage and abortion ... This things are first and foremost morality issues. Only recently have they become political ones.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Harold Hill

      "Tea Baggin..."

      Are you jealous or just hoping to get "Bagged"?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  16. Ann

    These mega churches pastors are not going to say anything because it could cut into their profits. They are living off the poor and widows. They don't want to share their gravy with the government. Most churches are tax exempt. They take money from the poor, and get money from the government to run so-called programs to help the poor. Most of the money goes to the pastor, only 8% to the program; and 10% on salary in which their family members run. I think every pastor who do not impart wisdom on how to grow and thrive in a rough economy to their members should be force to pay for their care. May they all rot in hell.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  17. Doles

    Bahing Obama isn't as fashionable as bashing Bush because ......? (Fill in the blank.)

    November 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Becuase Obama is actually capable of stringing together a coherent sentence.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Fred

      ....Obama can make a coherent sentence.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Dave A

    This commentary has a good points but I don't see the full story explaining why this situation exists. There is a link in the middle of the column, that if you click on it, has part of the answer: Why did these states refuse to implement this Medicaid expansion? Short answer: ACA only fully funds it for the first 3 years then the states are on the hook for the picking up a portion of this program. These states have a valid fiscal concern on the unknown costs that this expansion would unload on them. It sounds so honorable to protect the poor but it is also dishonorable to put forth unsustainable programs. We need to think equally with our heads as well as our hearts if we truly care about the poor.

    November 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      So, DENYING any help to theses people because you have a problem with a black President is being "responsible"?????
      Yeah, rrriiiight!... Same old bigotry from the same old bigots!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
      • Keeth

        You're a racist.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Dave, I wrote this article and I appreciate you clicking on the link. I would encourage to clink on the link and read again because your information is not entirely correct. You say the states "are on the hook" after the feds pick up 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and that states have "valid fiscal concerns" about the unknown costs. You failed to mention that Obamacare dictates that the federal government would pay 90 PERCENT of the law's coast after the first three years. I don't know if that means states would be still be "on the hook." Also, there have been numerous studies that show that it is actually makes more fiscal sense that states accept Obamacare because of the economic impact: jobs created, decreases in taxpayers picking up the tab for emergency room visits by the uninsured.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        John Blake
        Why some of the states fail to look at other countries or the successful Massachusetts health system is just strange. If Obamacare fails it will be more about the health and insurance lobbies plus partisan politics.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        John Blake
        Why some of the states fail to look at other countries or the successful Mas,sachusetts health system is just strange. If Obamacare fails it will be more about the health and insurance lobbies plus partisan politics.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • Dave A

        John Blake, Yes I read the fully story. That 10% of unknown $$ that States will have to pick up is what they will be on the hook for. To cite studies that "show savings" is quite a leap of faith when we see the track record of fraud and waste in these programs. Whatever analysis the States did was evidently not convincing enough to take the risk of taking on costs unknown with savings unproven. For States that did accept, it was more of a political move than a fiscally responsible decision. It will take a leap of faith that apparently some of these ministers don't even have.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • QS

      More people being enrolled leads to more people getting better health care, which leads to less cost to the state to subsidize those who are uninsured.

      3 years should be enough time for any state to transition as they end up having to cover less and less people through the state.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • amigay

      Dave, please be honest with yourself and admit the only reason ANY of the states refuse ACA funding is because
      1) it came from a Democrat
      2) it came from a black Democrat

      It's true the Feds will only fund the ACA at 100% for the first three years, but during the next three years the funding remains at 95% and after that (2020 on to ?) the funding is at 90%. Funny how states and local municipalities, etc can find money to fund sports stadiums or big corporate interests, but you're trying to paint a picture of the state's being dumped on by the ACA?? That dog won't hunt, dude.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
      • Dave A

        So you can't have any concerns about this law because if you do you are against Democrats and a Black Democratic President? Now that is racist.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  19. jtom

    Not one word as to why religious organizations have shirked their responsibility of providing medical help for the poor. Instead, they want to dump it all on the government, which would provide funding through the force of taxation.

    Since religious charity hospitals have gone away, then any additional taxes for healthcare should come at the expense of charitable contributions to the churches. They no longer need those funds.

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

    FROM THE ONION:
    As the White House struggles with the rollout of Obamacare’s online health insurance marketplace, pressure has mounted within the Republican Party to begin offering conservative alternatives that address the nation’s health care crisis. Here are some of the plans the GOP is considering:

    •Repeating the phrase “you can keep your current doctor” over and over until something happens
    •Loosening regulations to allow Americans to ship ill and injured family members to cheaper doctors overseas
    •Whatever the opposite of tyranny is
    •Allowing sick Americans to choose how they exhaust their life savings on a single medical bill, even if it’s out of plan
    •A true market-based solution—perhaps a convenient website—where uninsured people would pay for their own health insurance from private providers
    •$2,500 cash incentive to the first person who cures cancer
    •A health care law that won’t allow the disgrace of another Benghazi
    •Unsettling language and several ominous-looking graphs labeled “Obamacare” followed by a breezy smile and soothing, unspecific words

    November 8, 2013 at 2:57 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.