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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. ora pike

    YOU MAKE ME SICK AT CNN. Any mention by any minister that is against the socialist obamawave is met with separation of church and state-the ministers you mentioned help feed millions-they have ministries in the inter city, and cloth the poor. You are writing this as a joseph goebbels who did the same thing for hitler-why don't you write about the 60,000,000 babies killed by these liberal democrats??? 60 million who today are not paying taxes into the social security system-compare that today to having to have a large amount of young people in obamacare paying high fees t o pay for us old people. JOE BIDEN REPRESENTS YOUR THINKING-FEED THE POOR AND HE ONLY DONATED $5,500 FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR AND THESE MINISTERS FEED MILLIONS. Don;t even have to mention this same minister you show as upset votes for someone who is anti Christ-churches don't support socialism, abortions, gay rights as if this was not a choice??? big government who is now big brother telling us what we want and don't want. fyi: my wife and i set up a foundation 40 years ago to help the kids in the black community, have spoken in churches with 99% black membership all over the country. I WANT YOU AS SOMEONE WHO WROTE THIS ANTI CHRIST ARTICLE TO PUT IN WRITING THE AMOUNT OF MONEY YOU GAVE TO THE POOR LAST YEAR-see, it is what we all do not the big brother.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:51 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      So you're not pro-choice?

      November 10, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Colin

      But, how do you really feel about it?

      November 10, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • ATLmatt

      Are you seriously comparing christianity to Joe Biden? Who cares how much he donated to charity? christianity should promote any idea or plan to help the poor...like the Affordable Care Act. This and you further prove this unspoken hypocrisy.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • And Jesus said

      Don't be silly Jesus, I would never deny you! Said Peter.. with anger in his voice. Now I hear you ranting and raving about how helping those in need is not the job of government... and that the church shouldn't have to take care of these bums either... I love how two faced Christians have been.. since the beginning of it's inception.

      November 10, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  2. Mary

    Love the staged photo with the clean flag blanket.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      How true. There are no homeless people sleeping on benches like that. There are no homeless people except those who are homeless by choice. Before the ACA no one was uninsured except by choice.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • John Baker

        Don't let the facts get in the way of your babbling.

        November 10, 2013 at 9:45 am |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          It was sarcasm.

          November 10, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  3. quillerm

    How do these people get to the Web site that doesn't work? Do we add PC Monitors, keyboards, and assign ex-con Obamacare Navigators to City Parks and Soup Kitchens? States that accept ACA have to come up with the unknown Billions in revenue to make it work. As long as the States and people have choice, these socialist experiments will fail. Had Obamacare been properly debated, and not passed via deceit, deception, outright lies, etc., it would have never passed. That is the Scandal perpetuated by Liberal Socialists on America.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Cory111

      Just keep paying your taxes they are appreciated.
      Hillary 2016

      November 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  4. carol

    If you can't find anything in the Christian faith that backs helping the poor, the sick and weak, you simply don't want to find it.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      If you need your religion to tell you to help people around you, you are truly missing something.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • quillerm

      Christians have helped the poor since the beginning of their Religious culture. That is what made them so popular with the poor, slaves, and oppressed people of Rome and other Dictatorships. So called Progressives are all about destroying all religions, political viewpoints and cultures that don't submit to their Ideology. Liberals have never outspent Christians in money, time, effort to help the poor. 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 10, 2013 at 9:43 am |
      • Cory111

        Have you ever considered all big companies such as organized religions should pay income taxes. They build these massive churches, 9complete write off. I think if Jesus were to return he would not be pleased to see such structures. Ever see Priest or other church leaders driving a used car?

        November 10, 2013 at 9:49 am |
        • Greg

          Cory – I see on TV what you're saying everyday. Fortunately, TV portrays a very small and biased slice of Christianity in the world today. For every Mega-Chursh, there are thousand's of small church's just getting by financially. For Every Joel Osteen, there are tens of thousands of pastors and lay people around the world just making ends meet, many driving used cars. The media too often groups all Christians and their pastor into one very unrepresentative bucket.

          November 10, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  5. nancy

    HOW COMICAL. All the POOR people who were there BEFORE obamiecare and now it's ALL the GOPs fault. Liberals SUCK

    November 10, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • BD70

      It is the GOP's fault they are still there without healthcare. A solution was offered and the solution rejected. No other solution was presented that I know of.

      November 10, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  6. Maddy

    no

    November 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  7. CodyV

    I like how its a scandal for the church to not discuss this, when the government that implemented this program wont even discuss it

    November 10, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  8. CodyV

    Naked propaganda CNN. Look at what Jesus said regarding the poor when Judas said they could have sold some perfume to help the poor (even though Judas was stealing from those coffers) Jesus said you will always have the poor. Clearly Jesus though there were more important things than the temporal socioeconomical condition of people. Now to the present, its not the church but individuals who have an obligation to help the poor and needy. And while often those individuals accomplish that through programs run by churches and non churches, its not the responsibility of the Church to do so. Church is meant to equip believers in Christ for every good work/deed and to encourage their spiritual growth.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • rosa, b'ham al

      Have you even read the bible? or do you just read selective portions that make you feel good about yourself?

      November 10, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      My thinking is more in line with Judas. Help the people around you. Jesus was essentially saying that you should look to your own salvation first. Christianity is at its core an exceedingly selfish thing.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  9. centeredpiece

    I don't recall Jesus backing any particular health insurance model. Nor did he mention welfare or other taxpayer supported programs. What he DID say was "Feed them yourselves." And for millennia that's what Christians (and, by the way, Jews also) have done. Run food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, orphanages, etc. These organizations are much more efficient that government programs which typically eke out maybe 11¢ of each dollar. Charities use closer to the mid-90¢ from that same dollar. To be sure, there is a place for government in the safety net. But to pretend that the one and only way a Christian can respond to poverty is to hitch her/himself to the leviathan of government is disingenuous in the extreme. Of course, sitting in one's recliner and looking down one's nose at non-Democrats is a favorite pastime of the left. THEY are so much more compassionate (with other peoples' money) and love the poor so very much more. Statistics, however, show that it is conservatives who contribute more and volunteer more hours that provide direct assistance to the needy, while Democrats tend to be a lot of talk and very little action.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Parry

      Well said my friend

      November 10, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • scars

      Of course Jesus wouldn't have backed an insurance model as insurance did not exist back then. Duh! You know what he did? He healed the sick for FREE. He didn't charge a dime. You want to do it through your church. Fine. How many churches are hiring doctors to help the poor and sick at no expense to the poor? How many churches buy insurance policies for those who are unable to purchase them? I'm waiting to hear exactly how churches are attacking this problem of poor without health insurance. I have never seen a church that could financially handle that endeavor, with the exception of Pat Robertson, perhaps, who can afford private jets and mansions. Imagine taking over the medical bills of a poor person with cancer or in need of heart surgery. You'd be lucky to have the funds to help even one patient like that a year (if you are paying the non-discounted hospital rates). Even the health insurance policies (assuming you could find one that would accept them and cover a pre-existing condition) would be extremely expensive to fund. How many of those types of patients could a typical church support? And what other services would you have to cut back on to be able to provide that? Really, I would love to hear the plan that churches have come up with to address this. I would love to see a church budget that shows how much money will be allocated to this problem. Any examples to share with us?

      November 10, 2013 at 9:50 am |
      • rankin4

        Several years ago while working i had my fingertips severed. i had to go to the emergency room and have then reattached. i had no health insurance. there was no workmen s comp involved, it was a side job. i was looking at a huge bill that there was no way to pay. i received a notice that catholic charities was willing to pay the bulk of the bill for me. i am not catholic and did not solicit help. in the end i paid around 300 dollars for a 20000+ dollar surgery. i will always be grateful for this act of charity, by a church i am no fan of.

        November 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • BD70

      Do they also provide medical care for free?

      November 10, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  10. jkflipflop

    Basing our rules and laws on fairy tales seems like a bad idea to me.

    November 10, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  11. powerfail

    Another piece of pro-Obamacare propaganda from CNN. So much for objectivity. Total garbage.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Truth Speaks

      Go read more FAX news if the truth makes you that sick.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  12. Chris

    The Bible never supports access to healthcare for everyone. Jesus healed many, but he didn't heal all. The mission and ministry of the church is not about welfare, social justice, or the feeding the poor. the mission of the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Followers of Jesus should feed the poor and help whenever possible. But, the nature of our mission is to save souls, not bodies.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • John Baker

      Maybe if you had read the Bible you would ask yourself how you can save your soul if you do not help the poor, care about social justice, the welfare of others and the health of their bodies.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  13. Fulano

    The mega churches are the new Pharisees and Sadducees – hypocrites. I think Jesus would shame TD Jakes, Joel Osteen & the Young Sr & Young Jr. To me what is so ironic is that 10 years, just before John Osteen died, he had promised to build. Medical facility for the poor. When sonny Joel took over, those plans were shelved and he abandoned the poor neighborhood where the church was locate and bought the former Compaq center in the center of White Houston.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  14. Elliott Carlin

    Wow, now the leftists want affirmation from the religious on ACA-amazing. So much for church and state separation. LOL

    November 10, 2013 at 8:49 am |
  15. Kenny

    The blatant hypocrisy of these wealthy exploiters-of-God the true believers will never see, so blinded are they by anyone who stands in front of the room yelling "praize Jeeeezus". They claim to follow Jesus, preach about him, laud his work with the poor and downtrodden, his sacking of the money-lenders, and imply his courage in facing his detractors before his execution. But when it comes to the real world, their courage, if they ever had any, shrivels like a limp you-know-what. Help the poor? Wash their feet? Visit the ill and dying? Only the ones accepted by the wealthy, white conservative establishment. But they keep accepting the donations from the poor don't they? Guys like Osteen promises you riches will come in heaven, while he collects his here. Read "Elmer Gantry" if you haven't Mr. Osteen, then look in the mirror.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • centeredpiece

      Sorry your eyes are blinded to the many church-affiliated hospitals, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, etc. that exist. In many communities religious communities of many different faiths join together to set up programs that feed, clothe, house and minister to people. And they don't tax people to fund their operations. You might like to stereotype religious people, but you can do so only by closing your eyes to the truth.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  16. darth cheney

    Thanks for calling out these moral hypocrites. It's not like they have to go far – just read about Jesus' life and deeds. The imperative is right in front of them. They don't even have to support Obamacare (since that would make their congregations' heads blow up) they can simply challenge their flock to come up with a better idea that provides universal health care. And therein is the problem. The hypocrites lead for a reason – they provide the voice their followers really want to hear.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  17. John

    Why refuse Medicaid expansion? Because once the Obamacare seed money is gone it becomes another unfunded liability for the states that they can't pay. I know it is much more satisfying for progressives to say these states hate poor people but it happens to be another lie in a long line of Obamacare lies.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  18. Darren

    They'll start talking if you put a 5% tax on the money they bring in. It's for the people right? Do it.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Rob

      There ya go. There's the ONLY lib plan ever put up for ANY topic; tax someone else to fund some broken ass plan for something.

      The only irony here is that libs and cnn-ers constantly bash religion. You constantly fight to remove religion from anything funded by tax. THEN you want to tax it for your purpose.

      Well here's a news flash.... Christian based programs have been helping the poor via charity, missions, programs, etc, etc, etc for centuries.
      I'm sure you'll bash back with more generalizations and fantasy all based on UNSUSTAINABLE 'tax someone else' plans.
      Are you fighting as hard for jobs programs do that those without can afford insurance? No. Are you fighting to attack the ridiculously high medical costs (thus bringing down premiums to make them more affordable)? No. Just lie to america regarding "if you like your premium, you can keep it. Period" in order to keep the votes up. THEN yank it out from under millions later.
      Broken ass plan by a party that doesn't have a plan.

      November 10, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  19. Darren

    Why not put a 5% tax on all the money churches bring in a we would all be covered or free! Time to merge church and state since they all want to talk politics anyway.

    November 10, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • The Scam

      The bracket for said tax should be income, then the IRS could tax it at 33% !

      November 10, 2013 at 8:40 am |
      • guest

        It doesn’t really matter where the government gets its money; it will still be spent irresponsibly.

        November 10, 2013 at 2:29 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.