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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. sonny chapman

    When "Christian" Leaders want their Congregation to contribute $ to their Cause, they emphasize that the Congregation is the "working hand of the Lord". They can't seem to make the connection that for immense & complex problems, like poverty, sickness, economic disparity & other less attractive Social Ills, GOVT. may be the best "hands" to help.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  2. d

    And CNN doesn't talk much about the millions of Americans that have now lost their insurance coverage because their plan was cancelled and their premiums are now out of reach for a new plan. It is ok I guess, because those families are now one medical emergency away from dropping out of the middle class and becoming poor so they will get free health care at that point.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • sonny chapman

      Those folks may end up w/better coverage at a lower price. That problem can be fixed. The problem of denying health care to hundreds of thousands because the Govs., like mine(Jindal) HATE Obama more than they care about the lil Guy ? That ain't Christ Like, according to my reading of the Four Gospels.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • randro

        Still believe obamma? That is priceless. WAKE UP...obamma LIES hurt people. PERIOD.

        November 8, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  3. RinVA

    But is it moral or right to expand medicaid with money the federal government does not actually have? Curreently, our nation is more than $16 trillion in debt with no conceivable way of paying it off, yet roughly half of every dollar spent expanding medicaid will be spent with borrowed money, increasing that debt. It would take a miracle to pay off all of that.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • mike

      Debt isn't a question of morality. Your premise fails out of the gate. If you want to talk debt, great...but running a deficit isn't a moral issue. Further, your same logic would demand that we cancel Medicaid outright, among many other programs...because they were already part of a system running a deficit.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • RinVA

        Spending money you don't have isn't a moral issue? Burdening future generations with a crushing debt isn't a moral issue? You have a very strange take on morality, then. And, yes, in its current unsustainable form medicaid is immoral because it's being paid for with money we can never pay back, which also makes it an enormous lie and therefore doubly immoral. The bill will come due someday, but only after most of today's politicians are out of office, so what do they care?

        November 8, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  4. itsallmissedup

    Did I read this wrong or was it actually implying that Obamacare should be viewed as divinely given from GOD to "feed the poor, sick, and afflicted" just as Jesus did with the loafs of bread? This takes praise and blind worship of a man and his "principle" to a sad and sick new level. Jesus feed the poor because he loved them, not because he was forced to. This entire article is a giant mislead. It post a picture of a homeless man, yet the contents focus was on working class folks who can't afford coverage. It jumped around in point and purpose more than a 5th graders history paper. I don't know the person who wrote it, but its apparent his only purpose was to scold and shame those that don't agree with him, not instruct or clarify

    November 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • mike

      You read it wrong. You see whatever you want to see, and you want to be outraged by liberals. "LIBS LIBS LIBS!!!"

      November 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
      • itsallmissedup

        So if you read it for what it actually is, what is it? Other than a very clear violation of the policy your own party holds near and dear to their hearts of separation of church and state. It outlines a view that if you really believe in GOD and love your fellowmen than you would have no other choice than to publicly use your sermon to promote Obamacare. I am very interested in your interpretation of the article however as it apparently wasn't that.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Ron

      You read it wrong. The whole point is that if you're religious why exactly would you be against Obamacare? You might not like liberals, but the purpose behind what they're doing isn't evil; it's to make sure the needy are taken care of.

      I think the real gap here is that people let politics get in the way of right and wrong. I believe that taking capitalism out of healthcare is a good thing; I see it like the police or firefighters,

      November 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
      • itsallmissedup

        Um, that was not the point at all. The issue wasn't if they are pro obamacare or not, rather are they preaching to their congregations about they need to accept it and love it if they truly love their fellowmen. Read the article again! If a party preaches greater separation of church and state, then you cannot have it both ways. If a preacher doesn't want to bring politics, which is ultimately what obamacare has turned into, again not say its right or wrong, then it is their choice. Why does a party have the right to call them unchristian for doing so. I don't even like most of these pastors. I agree they do what they do for money, however it is still their call weather to publicly endorse a program or not.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • chrism

      CNN just hit a new low. John Blake has just climbed up on his pulpit, and preached, proselytized and castigated all who do not share his political worship of Obamacare. CNN has outright LIED. They show a picture of a homeless man? A homeless man WOULD qualify for medicaid. John Blake has just preached that taxes must be raised, that a broken medicaid system is the only solution to uninsured. And make no mistake, John Blake has just pronounced himself holier and more righteous than many a pastor who would see charity as coming from individuals and churches, not inefficient use of tax dollars.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  5. mike

    For too many so-called "Christians", who are really Christians-In-Name-Only, their religion has become troublingly contaminated with selfish objectivism and right-wing politics. Much as the Bible Belt co-opted right wing politics back in the 1980s, right wing politics has returned the favor and co-opted the Bible Belt.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  6. Guillermo

    Very, very one sided story. Concerning the churches, the states, and the coverage. Disappointing, but expected. Remember if you're not an Obamacare supporter, don't argue with one, because you'll be accused of being an idiot, a bigot, or now I guess one of those Christian folk. Objectivity is not part of this story or comments.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • mike

      Just because the truth hurts doesn't make it biased or untrue.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Kimberly

        You just proved his point. This is not journalism. It is a one sided op-ed piece. Especially the digs on Texas. We have the most uninsured primarily due to the fact that we have more illegal immigrants using our system.

        November 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  7. Hoyt

    For the same reason Rev. Wright isn't preaching damnation sermons against the manner in which Obama and the Liberal Democrats are hanging millstones around the necks of our children, grandchildren and generations to come in the form of reckless debt. Our children surely will suffer from the sins of their fathers.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • mike

      Rev. Wright isn't a major figure or influence on liberals. He is known only because of right wing complaints about his Obama connections. Terribly stupid comparison, but of course you probably know that...

      November 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • brucewilcox

      Helping the poor is never a sin, it's a commandment that's repeated over and over in both the Old Testament and the New.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Pray247

    It's amazing that Jesus died for standing up and speaking out for the less fortunate, while some celebrity pastors won't even risk their careers to do the same as who they follow.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • willy

      Considering how many religious connected hospitals there are, that are also considered non profit tax exempt organizations why is Obama Care needed?

      November 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Kimberly

        You do realize that non profit doesn't mean they operate for free? That they still have to be able to financially support themselves? That the doctors, supply companies, drug companies, surgical equipment companies don't just give their services and goods to a non profit for free? Again, a perfect reason why BOTH sides of the story need to be told.

        November 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  9. Mark

    Tough crap. They are not my responsibility and are non productive so it sucks to be them. Get off their a**, clean themselves up and get a job.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Roger that

      There are people with more than one job that are uninsured. They may even be sitting next to you in church you dimwit.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Tony

      Let me guess: You're a deacon.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      A lot of working Americans are under- or un-insured. That's part of the reason Obamacare is so important - so that more working Americans aren't devastated by the costs of catastrophic illness or injury. But Mark kneels at the pulpit of conservative greed and could care less about his fellow Americans.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • tallulah13

      A lot of working Americans are under- or uninsured. That's part of the reason Obamacare is so important - so that more working Americans aren't devastated by the costs of catastrophic illness or injury. But Mark kneels at the pulpit of conservative greed and could care less about his fellow Americans.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • tallulah13

        Damn you, double post!

        November 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  10. herfules

    The poor can't donate much to these pastors' churches so the pastors don't care about them. Why is anyone surprised by this?

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • rael1964

      What was the name of Jesus' church? I can't remember. Was the 5th Avenue Baptist Church? Church of the Holy Cross? St. Peter's? Hmmm....OH RIGHT – Jesus didn't have a church.

      Anyone who runs a church or attends a church is a charlatan. Matthew 6:5-6 strictly FORBIDS you from praying in public. LOSERS.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  11. Anni

    I grew up in a fundamentalist church and attended their grade school. My first hand knowledge is that these preachers use the Bible to push their own personal agendas; essentially they only care about power and controlling people's lives. They do not give a flying flop about the poor. They only care about what can line their pockets and bring more glory to themselves. It is selfishness masquerading as religion.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
  12. Pam

    Most pastors are not saying anything because they are not true Christians......they put money before God...

    November 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • John

      Amen....pastors in mega-churches who host TV shows and sell out arenas aren't interested in poor people.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  13. Ace

    The Bible talks about helping the poor by giving to your neighbor, others in the church, and to your family...Basically, out of charity. It does not talk about the government stealing from one to give to another. The Bible in many instances punishes some people who are lazy or don't work hard. As many verses talk about helping the poor, many other verses talk about being jealous of what others have. The government has gotten in the way of the church helping the poor and has forced many religious charities to close. If the religious were to help the poor, there would be far less red tape involved. But the government is more worried about Christians evangelizing than helping the poor.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yet another christian using Jesus as an excuse to not pay taxes.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • rael1964

        Bingo!

        November 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  14. mike electrician

    Ahh they don't care. They are what I call Bumper Sticker Christians. Sure they shout loud in those stadiums, yet when it comes to service of the poor they seem to say too bad. They sure will fight like heck to make sure you are born, but once you are here, you are on your own.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  15. Liberal sheep

    Hey. I know how to make Obamacare look better on CNN. Let's point the finger somewhere else. Nice work John Blake – you mindless sheep.

    November 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  16. Adaiah

    Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

    Does this sound like any place you know?

    November 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  17. JustUsBikers

    I am always amazed when I read or hear conversations that implies... God said this and that as if it was a real person!

    November 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  18. Fantom

    Face the facts—the truth is, like the RINOs...these are CINOs...Christians In Name Only! Their whole purpose is to keep their
    place as "church leaders" and nothing more. They like their big houses, free cars and congregation-generated perks and income! Why bite the hand that feeds you! What a bunch of complete hypocrites! What would Jesus do? Reminds me of the
    moneychanges in the tabernacle—he'd destroy these charlatans!!

    November 8, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Osceola Steve

      Yes.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  19. DaveinIL

    Say a prayer in school or government and the liberals start foaming at the mouth about separation of church and state. Fail to rally the congregation from the pulpit behind Obamacare and they rage about a lack of responsibility. What hypcrites!!!

    November 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • Roger that

      I guess your suggestion is to pray for the uninsured?

      November 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Kellz

      Yes Dave, it's pretty ironic

      November 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Hoyt

      Good point. And the Libs also complain the church is already too politically active and should be stripped of their tax exempt status. Their hypocrisy is blinding.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Not seeing it, Dave. Prayer at government-sanctioned events and establishments is un-Constitutional, because these are places created to represent the American public, which is comprised of people of many faiths, including no faith at all. To hold one religion over the religions of all the others violates the rights of those others and thus violates the First Amendment. Get it?

      Preaching in a church is protected by the Constitution. See how that works?

      I bet you aren't upset when conservative preachers tell their congregants how to vote, are you?

      November 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • revmlo

      DaveinIL
      You are exactly correct in your statement. It is inconceivable that pastors are now being singled out as the reason that Obamacare will not work in this country. One minute they are villified for taking a stand in the public arena and now that they make no comment concerning what many American people feel is lousy legislation-(Not condemning it, just not getting behind it) they are criticized for not participating more. The ultimate irony is that since they make no comment they are accused of alledgedly supporting the wealthy. Last I checked, everyone who pushed Obamacare politically was pretty wealthy, themselves. Want to criticize? Criticize the politicians who gave us all Obamacare yet decided to opt out of it for themselves. How could we miss that tidbit? It's not the pastors. It's not the Christians. It's the politicians and the media spin. Christians and pastors just make the best targets. They always have.

      November 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        Histrionics fail. Chrisitans and pastors do not make easy targets all the time, but when your religion makes up 85% of the population, you gotta expect sometimes one of you will get a little blame thrown your way. No need to get your p@nties in a twist.

        Muslims and Mullahs seem to be the biggest target to me.

        November 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • revmlo

          Don't worry Cpt. I'm afraid if my panties were in a twist I might have to use the healthcare system. But truly, I haven't read about the Muslims being the source of our government policies. You have to admit that this article seems somewhat out of the blue.

          November 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
        • tallulah13

          This article is not out of the blue. There are actually still christians who believe that Christ is the center of their church. It looks like they're willing to call out believers like you who use Christ's name to worship money.

          November 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  20. bibledoctor

    the new poor are getting younger and younger there were no shelters back in the 70 s everyone had cars, roofs, and jobs christians get out of your clowders and even if it hurts

    November 8, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • lestalk

      So, how do you expect anyone to pay for the poor if they all are poor? You know, you don't see Mormons with this problem, because they take care of their own!

      December 22, 2013 at 10:49 am |
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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.