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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. Internet Commenter

    The Obamacare Scandal About Which You Have Not Yet Heard

    Fixed it for ya.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  2. Tim

    The article presumes that Obamacare is a wonderful program for the poor and therefore should be supported by churches/pastors. The truth is, we simply don't know yet whether this program will be successful or not and the track record of past government programs for the poor is not encouraging. The federal government has spent twenty trillion dollars on "anti-poverty" programs since the great society programs of the 1960's were launched and our poverty rate today is as bad as it has ever been. Bottom line? They haven't been successful. Many christian conservatives believe that this program will also fail to live up the grand promises pushed upon the American people. There is strong evidence that this is already happening.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Basically all the "christian" states need to do is expand medicaid. Medicare (seniors) Medicaid (poor) do work. People like you whine about gov't programs that don't work yet during the gov't shutdown people complained about what they "WEREN'T" getting from the gov't. and how they needed it.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Keeth

      Nobody can argue with that Tim.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • SkepticalOne

        Yes we can.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      We are not talking about combating poverty we are talking about basic health care. Your position seems to be that we don't know that this program will work so we should do nothing at all. I must disagree.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
      • Keeth

        SkepticalOne
        Every American gets 'basic healthcare'
        Trey again.

        November 8, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          ok teeth tell us about this "basic healthcare" that no one ever heard of!

          November 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
  3. Keeth

    There are millions of liberal Americans unable to name one government program running efficiently and with high customer satisfaction. These same silly people believed obamacare, run by the government was going to work. As our President goes pleading for help from Silicon Valley...even he must confess reality. Sadly his fans refuse to face the truth. Go Hemp!

    November 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Medicare and medicaid do work. How many times have you seen seniors protest saying "Keep your hands off medicare" These people need insurance just like you. People not having insurance raises our taxes and insurance. Gotta better plan! lets hear it.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
      • Keeth

        "liberal Americans unable to name one government program running efficiently and with high customer satisfaction"

        Try again.

        November 8, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          You would just say no to anything.

          November 8, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      And if Obama came out in favor of oxygen people like you would pass out from holding their breath.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  4. Doghouse

    I live in a state that will not participate in Obamacare by rejecting government funds for Medicaid. I am retired and live on SS. My daughter is unemployed and having difficulty finding a job. She has pre-existing mental health issues that require expensive meds. She is on my wife's insurance but will go off of it January 1 because she just turned 27. I am concerned that she will try suicide again if she goes off the meds. We can't afford the drugs without insurance. I honestly don't know what to do.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • Keeth

      She's an adult and unemployed. Our system will see to it she gets medication. Obamacare isn't the answer.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Keeth
        The system has probably provided you with sufficient medication for your problems but you have to take them as subscribed, you should not skip a day like you have today.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • SkepticalOne

        Tell us all exactly what program will help this woman. You seem to have all the answers.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • Doghouse

        Keeth, What "system" are you referring to? What state do you live in and do they have a program to help people in this situation? The meds she is on can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist and she can't just go to the ER. Why specifically would Obamacare not work for us?

        November 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  5. Wamsley

    Before Obama people didn't use flags for blankets.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      And where are you from? The land of denial.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      When you are cold enough you will burn the damn flag to stay warm.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  6. Fyne

    Sometimes I feel like CNN's belief blog is where the biblically misguided of Christendom run to write articles.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      No, they hang out in the comment section and bask in their self righteousness.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  7. Keeth

    as obomacare begins it's death spiral, atheists come begging to the preacher for at least one kind word for their big government debacle

    November 8, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Keeth
      Carry on don't quit, fine job, thanks.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  8. Charm Quark

    Someone, anyone, answer the question. The USA spends more on healthcare per capita on healthcare than any other developed country that have universal healthcare. Where is all that money going, greed to the health care industry, perhaps?

    November 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Keeth

      I'm no liberal, therefore I fear no topical question. 60% of healthcare money spent in our country is spent by the government. So, most of the problem is...the government. Isn't math fun?

      November 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Ok mr. paranoid republican. You say the same limbaughish garbage over and over. Uninsured people cost you money. Do you like paying someone else's bill? Unless you have a better plan you shouldn't be complaining.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Keeth
        Have you ever in your small mind tried to figure out where the government money went, it was mainly distributed to the 50 _____. Fill in the blank.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
      • SkepticalOne

        You're no mathematician either.

        November 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • MrHighMighty

      When healthcare is a for-profit system, the providers' motivation is to make their patients feel better, but not get better. If patients get cured, the checks stop. So everything in the US healtcare system is geared toward keeping the checks coming, by making the patients feel cared for, and by Big Pharma and equipment/supply companies rewarding doctors for putting their patients on pills on devices that treat the symptoms but not the disease, so the patients will keep coming back.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Portland tony

      I'm covered with a good Medicare advantage plan so I have no horse in this race. Although my deductibles have shot up.....that's life.
      However, I ask, why is it that we in America have the most expensive yet less efficient health care system in the world. Why don't ALL Americans have BASIC coverage that even countries with "socialized" medicine offer? Obamacare as it exists isn't the answer, but what is? Ya gotta keep the poor folks healthy enough to keep the rich folks rich.

      November 8, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  9. Mary

    Well lets just cut to the chase.
    These so called pastor's are nothing more than scam artists.. Who are using God and religion to get rich..
    Snake oil salesmen.
    They are not TRUE men or women of God.. They prey on those that are.
    Its that simple.
    They are performers.. making a buck..
    Its a shame people fall for their so called Ministries.. Such a shame.
    Just by the nature of what they do, they prove they are not of God..
    Millions of people watching them,standing up as celebrities in front of their fans, selling books and making profit off God..
    NO they are not of God.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  10. Keeth

    a) The average income of an Obama voter was higher than a Romney voter
    b) On average, Republicans donate lots more time and money to charity
    c) Every survey indicates Republicans are much happier than Democrats

    November 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Keeth
      Stop, Stop, Stop, all the dancing or I'll have to leave....In your case stop all the BS.
      Actually I do not mean that, your posts are going to direct more away from your beliefs than I could ever do, good on you.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • Wamsley

        You just proved one of his points. Niiiiiice.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
        • Keeth

          They are angry little cusses aren't they?

          November 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          No, he didn't, but you're too stupid to realize it. Keep posting, Wamsley, you're making your own side look bad just by promoting it with your lying azzumptions.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Cpt Obvious you whine and cry too much. Be a man.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Charm Quark's posts show a lot more satisfied peace and comfortable humor than anything you or Wamsley write.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Charm Quark is full of resentment and hate.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Try harder, Wamsely, you're posts are still boringly vacuous.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I have read many of Charm Quark's posts and have never seen evidence of what you describe. However, you could have a brain that is completely rotted by one or another religion that amounts to nothing more than a brain virus that keeps you from accurate judgment of reality.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Aw, did I poke fun at your hero and now you can't stand it and resort to personal attacks? Poooooooor baby.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
        • Karen

          Wamsley, you are the sound-minded gentleman. Not Cpt Obvious or Charm Quark.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Thanks Karen for noticing.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • Karen

          Cpt Obvious resorts to foul language because he can't express himself in a smart manner. I've been reading his posts for a few days. He needs help.

          November 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Yea, I could tell. Thanks for that.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Walsley
          I do not recall directing one of my posts to you but if you want me to hate you, I have better things to do with my life, nor could I like you but I wish you no harm.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Yawn.... I guess Jesus employs only stupid liars to visit this blog.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Who said anything about Jesus??? What are you talking about?

          November 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Oh, you are one of those kinds of atheists. Ugh. Go away troll.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I had thought it was obvious who wrote something about Jesus. Me. In fact, I think you can still tell. My post hasn't disappeared has it? If not, just look at my last post and the evidence is still there.

          Now I know why you're having so much trouble understanding what is said, here. You read posts and then forget what they stated and who wrote the content. Try taking notes as you read, maybe?

          November 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
        • Wamsley

          I'm Jewish you idiot.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Of course you are. Did I ever say otherwise? Seriously, can you please try to be less stupid and boring?

          November 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Nobody can be less stupid or boring than you. I noticed no one is coming to your defense...

          November 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Right is right, no matter if anyone agrees with it or not. I don't need defenders. And yes, liar, even a vegetable who's been in a coma is more exciting and intelligent than me. How'd you figure it out?

          November 8, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
        • Wamsley

          Nobody will ever defend your stupidity. So you troll.

          November 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Confidence arises from having the respect of those you most admire and respect. Happiness is not a moment or a goal to be acheived, but a state of being.

          November 8, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  11. SciGuy

    Jesus's commands are to individuals and to churches, not to govts. When a govt takes money from one to pay for something for another, that does fall under scriptural teaching–it's called theft, and God and Jesus condemn it.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  12. Keeth

    Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times

    “The problem is this: We liberals are personally stingy.
    Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.
    Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals”

    November 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      It's probably true, and most of the difference is likely tithing to churches, only *some* of which is used charitably.

      Tithing income is used on clergy, utilities, real estate and other operating expenses (and investments) for the church. The actual amounts that go back into the community as charity will vary wildly with churches.

      There are people who even want to use church tithes to fund polical campaigns. Fortunately this is illegal today.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • kingpin

        I believe in Brooks research (who was surprised by the results) he found that charitable giving outside church settings was also far more generous from conservatives. In fact even poor Republicans gave more generously than Democrats.

        November 8, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  13. Well Done

    Who is bringing up seperation of church and state? Oh I am sorry that is only good for your agenda?
    Pastors are ridiculed when that speak about God, against aboortion, prayer in school or in gov't AND now you want them take a stand??

    November 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      I can see how it would be confusing. I mean really, why should Christians follow the law of the const.itution and have mercy for the poor and undesirables among us? What silly notions.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
  14. haddock

    Never did think much of Jakes, Ohrnstein and the other "gospel of prosperity" millionaires. Pope Francis is more my style.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • Harbinger

      It is interesting how the Pope is someone even protestants tend to like over those name it claim it witchcraft hustlers like Osteen, but I would be wary of it as a protestant lest you start letting the See of Rome tell you how to interpret God's will and word.

      November 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  15. Harbinger

    Anyone who labels themselves a republican or democrat has no IQ worth measuring. It is those imaginary lines in the sand that are destroying our nation, not the platform of a political party or the beliefs of its members.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Dorken Wackenburg

      Put down the crack pipe and quit hitting the bong and you will come to understand 2 things ... 1) Obama is a SUPER racist, SUPER totalitarian, SUPER liberal agent of Islam who is purposefully trying to bring about the downfall of the United States of America and 2) Repeat 1) over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again

      November 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
      • practicallady

        Troll.

        November 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  16. haddock

    This really is a scandal. The silence on the Right, and from (certain) pulpits about this monstrous neglect of our civic and christian duties proves how hollow GOP concern over people being hurt by Obamacare really is. They hate anything Obama supports, no matter what that thing is. Disgusting.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • Tonto

      Definition of hypocrisy=Promising Americans that you can pay for their health insurance when you are $17 trillion in debt and another $2 trillion in unfunded liabilities. But you can keep your current policy!

      November 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  17. Job

    Obviously this is written by an Obama loving atheist. More libutard propaganda for the uninformed sheep.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  18. Michele

    The "pastors" who refuse to speak up about this are not men of God. They are men of Money who care about no one except themselves and who are not interested in anyone who cannot add $$ to their (the "pastors") pockets. In other words, hypocrites of the highest order.

    November 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  19. annebeth66

    Wait until these people who are not covered start dropping dead and these old preachers realize that this means less money in the collection plate. Oh Lord Jesus no, who is going to pay for the pilot of pastors' private jet? Who will pay for the maid to clean up pastors' 22 bedroom house? We needs that healthcare now!

    November 8, 2013 at 6:23 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.