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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. Joe D

    As a member of the Bible Belt states I would say that the biggest problem with this story is that it is saying that only government can help the poor. This has been used for all the great social safety nets the government has ever set up. Social Security was set up as insurance for old people because granny and gramps could not fiend for themselves in their old age, Medicare and Medicaid was an expansion of Social Security and the beginning of the war on poverty. The people who have always supported these wanted you to be guilted into this because God wants you to. Jesus told us that YOU are responsible for the poor, YOU are responsible for the widows and orphans. Just think about what kind of community we would have if individuals took responsibility for individuals. We would bear each others burdens. Instead, we think that the collective taxpayers should have money taken from them, funneled through the politics of government and then funnelled out to those you fall into a certain way, with a little grift being taken out along every step of the way. All that does is present resentment between haves and have-nots, providers and consumers. It creates division and that is not God's work. Think how the author of this story would react if those megachurches (or some of their members) beared the burden of their health costs instead of relying on The ACA or whether a state expanded Medicaid or not. Instead the author of this article, tells us that Jesus would want government control. Shame on the author for advocating that and shame on we Christians for letting government every get their foot in the door of charitable work.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • QS

      And what are you doing besides saying only religion can help the poor?

      Your religion is poison because it makes people think, as you do, that things are so simplistic when they are complex and extremely complex when they are quite simple.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • chuck

        Why do you prejudge someone's faith? Who made you God?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Petra

      Well stated. Also, the same crowd that Jesus fed followed him the next day wanting more free food and wanted to make him king (They wanted to be Democrats)...Jesus rebuked them and refused to feed again. This is a politically charged article referencing a politically charged Pastor. The church is responsible to take care of those who are unable to care for themselves, but not a 5000 crowd daily feeder to those who just do not want to make their own bread.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • chuck

        He that will not work should not eat.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      His followers came to Jesus & said of the thousands gathered,"They are hungry". Jesus replied , "Feed them".Luke 9,13. He didn't quibble & say that feeding them would cause them to become dependent upon them or that this was bad economic/social policy. Jesus said, "Feed them." How can some folks read the Four Gospels & come away with the same hearts of stone I can't understand.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • chuck

        How do you know his followers have hearts of stone?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Charles

      What a crock of dung.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • kardiac

      Will you be there to pay the co-pays for treatment and prescriptions? Government is made to help a large number of people. It takes what we give and multiplies it and tries to make sure the right people get help. Unless folks like you stand in the way and say "Jesus didn't do it this way" Would Jesus have helped all the poor at once if he could use a modern distribution system? I don't get not wanting to help.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  2. Scott

    As a Christian, the responsibility is on me to help the poor. My responsibility is not to try to force others to do so through the legislative process, my responsibility is to act. As a church, that organization's responsibility is to provide an opportunity for its congregants to help the poor, not to encourage them to force others to do so. Not once in Scripture does Jesus (or anybody else) say "Go, lobby the government, and encourage them to do the things I told you to do instead of doing them yourselves."

    November 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • QS

      Then you and your religion have failed miserably and you should now realize you and your religion have no credibility to speak on issues of helping the poor...especially when it comes to berating the government for trying to do that very thing.

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

        What religion are you describing?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The work of private charities (including churches), while laudable, does not address even fraction of the poverty problem.
      "When all soldiers lay their weapons down
      Or when all kings and all queens reliinquish their crowns
      Or when the only true messiah rescues us from ourselves
      It's easy to imagine there will be sorrow no more"...

      November 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  3. bkgrandma

    These southern "pastors" only care about the poor when they can convince them to give money to their churches.
    Then these so called religious pastors take big salaries because they raised so much for the poor. I wonder what percentage of the money that Joel O'Steen rakes in actually goes to the poor and what goes directly to him. Jesus led by example, these hypocrites should do the same. They don't want tax dollars helping the poor, they want that money given to their "churches"!

    November 8, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • chuck

      Proof?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  4. ztom

    Doesn't matter if you are supposedly Christian, Muslim, atheist or other. You still will always have your political views. Plenty of people don't follow the Bible 100% or whatever their religion is.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  5. Keeth

    So, first our President relentlessly lies to you. But you'll take it. You don't mind being lied to by those you worship. Now you're demanding a combination of church and state. You want government policy driven by biblical principals. Do you have any self respect left?
    I remember when Democrats had self respect. At the bottom of this page is a picture of JFK. What happened?

    November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Can you name a president in the last 50 years that hasn't lied relentlessly to the populace?
      The right wingers are constantly harping about how the US is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles – when the other side tries to say "hey! aren't healing the stick and helping the poor Christian principles?", instead of provoking any kind of self-reflection they simply get slammed with further divisive rhetoric and emtpy polemics.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • sonny chapman

        10-4. And some of those lies or 1/2 truths have led to wars that were really hard to get out of.

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

        When did Jimmy Carter lie?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • QS

      You've not made sense in a single one of your comments.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  6. ft

    its even worse. its the poor who just got screwed who are the very people these preachers fleece for their lavish lifestyle.

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

      Where's your proof?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  7. yessir

    Scandal, huh? More hard hitting news by CNN...

    November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  8. Mike

    All religion is a business anyone who believes they are going to live on a cloud when they die are friggin idiots. its a tax free business and it shouldn't be.

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

      Speaking of idiots, I'm glad that you joined the conversation.
      So, how have you employed your vast knowledge of science and intellectual truth to solving this whole poor issue? and why haven't your other scholars who are smarter than religion put this topic to bed?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • chuck

      "friggin idiots" is a term rascists use.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  9. Andrew

    I LOVE this blog post. Have you noticed it is we atheists who seem to be more inclined to care about the poor and vulnerable in society these days? A bit of liberalism seems to be arrived at the same way atheism is – through the practise of thoughtful reasoning.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • ft

      amen

      November 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Joxer the Mighty

      If Atheists care about the poor so much, why is it that highly religious people give more as a percentage of their income to charity than non-religious? We believe it is our responsibility to help the poor. Most of us don't believe it should be the government (who is usually incredibly terrible at managing money) who helps the poor.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
      • chuck

        How much do atheists give? Dawkins? Darwin?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  10. patrick

    Have you ever wondered what kind of house a televangelist lives in? I think all those crazy TV church people have a nice scam going on!!!

    Joel Osteen
    Square Footage: 17,000
    Bedrooms: 6
    Bathrooms: 6
    Other: 3 Elevators, 5 wood burning fireplaces, 1 bedroom guest house & pool house
    Location: Tall Timbers subdivision in River Oaks, Harris County Texas
    Value: 10.5 million
    (Information provided by 2010 Houston's Daily Digital Magazine)

    Paul and Jan Crouch
    Square Footage: 9,500
    Bedrooms: 6
    Bathrooms:9
    Other: 1 Elevators, 6 car garage, tennis court, pool with fountain,
    Location: Newport Beach, California
    Value: 5 million
    Other Residence: The TBN network owns 30 homes

    Kenneth Copeland
    Square Footage: 18,280
    Other: Boat dock with three slips,
    Location:Tarrant County, Texas
    Value: 6.45 million
    Additional Information: Property owned by church and is tax exempt

    Creflo (Augustus) Dollar
    Location: 4695 Hamden Forest Trail, Atlanta
    Value: over 1 million

    Additional Residence:
    Location: 1811 Sandy Creek, Fayetteville, Georgia
    Value: $2 million

    Paula And Randy White
    Square Footage: 8,072
    Other: Tampa Bay waterfront view, in ground pool and spa,
    Location: 4301 Bayshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL
    Value: 2.68 million
    Additional Information: Randy White took soul ownership after divorce

    Additional Residence: Condo
    Location: Trump Towers, NY
    Value: 3.5 million

    Benny Hinn
    Square Footage: 7,200
    Bedrooms: 7
    Other: 5 car garage
    Location: Dana Point, CA
    Value: 3 million
    (Information provided by Dateline NBC – originally reported as 10 car garage)

    Joyce Meyer
    Square Footage: 10,000
    Bedrooms: 6
    Bathrooms: 5
    Other: Guest house with disconnected 8 car garage, pool, pool house, putting green,
    Location: near Interstate 270 and Gravois Road, St. Louis County
    Value: 1.85 million

    Additional Residence: Lakefront Home
    Location: Porto Cima at Lake of the Ozarks
    Value: 500,000

    Eddie Lee Long
    Square Footage:
    Bedrooms: 6
    Bathrooms: 9
    Location: Lithonia, GA
    Value: 1.4 million

    T.D. Jakes
    Square Footage: 15,000
    Bedrooms: 7
    Other: Swimming Pool, 4 Car Garage,
    Location: White Rock Lake area of Dallas
    Value: 2.6 million

    November 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it."

      – Robert Heinlein

      November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • bob

      really? how about Gore? Pelosi? Reid? Obama?
      They stoked up the ignorant masses such as yourself into `fight the 1%`!!! "we are like you. vote for us. we'll bring change. corporate greed is to blame!!" all the while these tools were just as much part of the $$$ elite as those they got you fired up about. So, how'd that work out for ya??
      sheep

      November 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Whether Republican or Democrat, the US president is always beholden to business interests and furthering their profits.
        Each side tries to present themselves as drastically different from one another by bloviating on what amounts to minor issues like abortion and gay marriage – but in the end, the American people are faced with the choice of John Jackson or Jack Johnson... same excrement, different piles.

        November 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
        • bob

          "everyone has interests"??? Um, yeah. however, ive not seen anything so blatantly false as that of the democrats political motives. "i'll make government more transparent" >> most closed government in recent memory. IRS targeting rival party groups, NSA reading everything from everyone, etc. Speaks of providing healthcare but nothing on actively promoting jobs or reducing healthcare costs, etc, etc, etc, etc
          The right can jab at the left, the left the right, etc. But seriously. seriously. please look at the platform this guy ran on and how it turned out. Racism is the only thing that is plausible for an explanation as to why so many still wave his flag. Ironic isnt it...

          November 8, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
      • kardiac

        Bob you sound like a bitter and poor loser. Like most RWs all you want to do is blame and blame but do nothing to move anything ahead. Don't worry so much. In two years you will get another chance to put your dysfunctional ideals into the White House. When the Democrats win again let us know how its the work of evil Democrats and not a people starting to give up on Republican baloney.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • bob

          you are an idiot. you have not had the sense to see that what you want is not even on the horizon of those who promised it to you. you were lied to yet continue to point fingers. you note that other blame!!??!!?? ha!! idiot. when dems were not in power, their agenda didnt work. when they were in power it isnt working. you blamed bush for years. etc, etc, etc
          the dems have cornered the market on blame my friend.
          again, no opinion. just curious.... how is `hope and change` working out for you?

          November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • TELew

      I guess they are all planning to provide housing to the poor. After all, they do have the space. And they use their swimming pools for mass baptisms. Unfortunately they just haven't had a chance to act on their intentions.

      Of course, throwing in some food would be good too.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Michael

      Please read Patrick's list of the homes owned by just some pastors ! Wake up people!!

      November 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • bre2013

      Maybe they will get me some healthcare. I am one of the poorest, who fell into the age gap. Governor Rick Perry denied me health care. He is satan. I need medical care desperatly, unless I can manage to get pregnant, I'll have to die. Too old to get pregnant so my only other option is death. Will Rick Perry cover my funeral?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  11. proud to be a Christian

    Why did this article only single out megachruch Pastors? how about asking pastors of small churches in these states? how about asking CEOs of companies in these states? how about asking business leaders in these states? this article was just looking to get people to start bashing Christians and it worked

    November 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • No

      Because they have mega bucks, duuuuh.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • bob

        churches have given more to the poor (and continue to) than the liberal self righteous blow hards ever will. hell, the lib's only want to tax and give someone else money to the poor.
        ironic that they point the finger

        November 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • JOn

      Remember, they just like to hear themselves talk. They have no clue how to resolve issues. They just feel like whinning and getting on board with others that have no real clue. It is sad, but we still need to pray for them and hope they will see where they are wrong. You have to expect them to try to argue their side. Even though they do it poorly, it makes them feel important. In the end we all know who will be standing proud and feeling they were right all along. The rest will be kneeling and praising. Nuff said. Now let the whiners continue. Just watch and be amazed at the foolishness.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • QS

      Because those pastors who aren't beholden to conservative political talking points ARE telling their congregations about this.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • TELew

      I think they did not focus on small churches because the congregants tend to be poor. And though they give their 10%, it still isn't a lot of money.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  12. Ivan

    Hilarious to watch all the so-called christians announcing how Jesus was wrong, and he totally didn't mean we should take care of the least of us.

    I bet they sleep well at night too

    November 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  13. bob

    "the scandal you never heard of" because there wasnt one.
    CNN you have become such a tool of a tabloid. The atheist liberal rag attempting to `shame` christians (who CNN-ers openly criticize) into promoting friggin obamacare as some sort of humanitarian necessity.
    First check the numbers of people in this uninsured class that have willingly sighed up now that they have an opportunity. Apparently for all the millions/billions spent on this "Obama-ination" (ha) you could count the enrollees on two hands.
    Second, the Christian organizations you try to `expose` give more in aid and programs to the poor than you socialists ever have.

    This is a chump, puppet of a news rag that has lost all credibility some time ago.....

    November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  14. hrladyship

    I'll bet you hate Robin Hood too.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  15. are122

    Stupid article. So many say the Church should stay our of politics now say politics belongs in the Church. I wouldn't care if someone brought it up but no one I know needs to be told the poor need help. Those in this situation I have spoken to want nothing to do with signing up. Why should they? Like many others they will just continue on to the ER anyway. In fact, these efforts might be far better spent on hospitals signing up people that come in without insurance. Seems to me they are trying to blame anyone for what appears to be the Obama failure.

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

      Awesome article John. Thank you for having the guts to tell the truth. The RWNJ's are going crazy over this...lol
      Greedy hateful, heartless people!! Shame.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
      • bob

        "gready" ha. you definitely drank the Kool Aide.
        The libs dont understand working for anything. they only belive in buying votes by taking from others to give to some.
        If you finished middle school, you'd understand that that plan is not sustainable. but you'll see soon enough

        November 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
        • kardiac

          Bob if he finished middle school his education is beyond what you are capable of. I have a question about charity given by your church...do I have to be a member?

          November 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
        • bob

          kardiac,
          "Bob if he finished middle school his education is beyond what you are capable of."
          lol.
          "I have a question about charity given by your church...do I have to be a member?"
          as you probably expect handouts anyway, don't worry. you dont need to be a member. just hold out your hand. i'm sure that you have that down pat.

          November 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  16. Doc Vestibule

    A civilized society provides the necessities of life to even the poorest of its citizens.
    Just ask the rest of the developed world who all have universal health coverage.

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

      Heck, even developing nations try to provide medical care for everybody

      November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • RIck C.

      ^^ Yes

      November 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  17. sharkusg

    Complications of a divisive party-line vote.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  18. Seastanker

    Just because someone is being critical of your position doesn't mean they hate you. Keep that in mind.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Sea...
      Christians love to think they are hated, they thrive on it, let them keep that illusion, it helps them with the bigger delusion.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  19. KGiese

    Anyone who thinks Obamacare is good for the poor really need a wake up call.

    Time will tell out. speak whatever gabage and praise or condemnation you want, but time will show that Obamacare with cost the poor and middle class good affordable heathcare.

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

      Maybe you should have fought harder for a single-payer system then.

      And, by the way, if you thought the old system was sustainable and should have been left in place, you need a wake up call.

      November 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • amigay

      The poor don't have health care now so what are they losing?

      November 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Bunny

        OMG! Look at what you wrote! What does that MEAN?

        November 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    This is one of the worst opinion pieces I've read. Who cares if Pastor aren't speaking out about Obamacare? Is the Muslim leadership speaking out? Or the Jewish Rabbi's? And what could they possible do about it anyway? It's the states at fault if they won't participate and they won't participate because it's a crappy program that doesn't solve the problem.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:22 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.