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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. Derek

    I stopped reading when they used an example of a woman with 4 kids who works in fast food. How about you not have kids and do not run up 20k costs in ER visits.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      The 20K in ER visits had nothing to do with her having four kids. They came from her untreated hernia and medication she didn't receive for assorted mental and physical disabilities. Despite all that, she has two kids in colleges and she's working a fast-food job trying to provide for the other two.
      Please read on...

      November 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
      • Seriously???

        If you work at a fast food job......then don't have four children. If you want to plan poorly then this is what happens. How about a little personal responsibility? Where has that gone?

        November 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  2. Jim in Florida

    Typical Blake attack on Christianity – every chance he gets. This time he shields Obama and goes after ministers. I have never read Blake write a piece attacking Islam because so many of the Muslim clerics will not speak out in opposition to Islamist Fundamentalist terrorism. CNN is probably the most virulent anti Christian and Anti Semitic network on the face of the earth. Blake is just another hack doing CNN's bidding

    November 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Hi Jim. Sorry you feel like I attack Christianity every chance I get, and won't say anything critical about Islam. I'd encourage to read some earlier stuff I've written, like "When religion becomes evil," and other stories where I've written about religious people of all sorts being intolerant. As far as attacking Christianity all the time, I'd also encourage you to read a profile of one of the ministers I quote in the article, Andy Stanley." I thought it was an affirmation about faith. Seems like my piece evoked a lot of anger and emotion and people. I wish more of the emotion and anger was reserved for million of poor people like Shelley in the piece who don't have basic health care in the richest country in the world.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • joe

        BOOM, roasted.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
      • ladyfonseca

        The preacher you quoted left out this. :For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10

        November 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • Makikijoe

          What does that have to do with health care ?

          I haven't heard anybody on this forum suggesting that we give food to able bodied people who simply refuse to work.

          The conservatives don't even want to give the jobless some jobs, judging by the way they voted down every Democratic proposal in Congress to create some jobs. Our country was quite prosperous in the 50's and 60's when we had a much higher income tax rate. Trickle down economics didn't work out all that well . ........ not in the long run.

          November 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • bob

        how does it feel to be a hack of an `author` writing nothing tangible with only this left leaning tabloid to support you.
        "well obamacare isn't working but but but look over here. these guys are not helping either". what an amateurish attempt at deflecting away for one obvious scandal in an attempt to create another.
        which is it? do you want religion in politics and to take the role of government or not? regardless of your answer, do you seriously compare the amount of support given by religious groups to the poor with that of liberal government?? heck, even with that.. relevance? how does it relate to obamacare?
        then pointing fingers at people? calling them out for personally not doing enough? shall we go down the list of philanthropic liberal non-government organization leaders? ...you know what. lets not. not because it would make my point. but rather because that is at best the journalistic equivalent of a 3rd grade playground argument.

        dude, i dont have to agree with you. `report` on why people `need` obamacare or whatever the heck else you belive in. but stooping to "ooh, ooh, look someone else is bad too" is weak.

        November 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  3. oreo

    Neo-Liberals pray to Big government, their extreme faith is being tested over Obamacare disaster, however they are a devoted and deluded group, we will see.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Agnostickids

      What are you talking about? Sounds like crazy gibberish.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      oreo:

      The REAL disaster is having a wealthy country like the U.S. with 40 or 50 million of it's people without health insurance. And the REAL deluded are the people, even millions of poor people who vote for conservatives, who continue to buy the GOP lie that we can't afford universal health insurance.

      I don't know why not. After all, Canada and Great Britain afford it. Why can't we ?

      November 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Rob

      Agreed. Not one talking of pressuring their leaders to provide a working plan. Noone looking for a jobs package so that those without will be able to afford healthcare. Noone looking to have their leaders attack the ridiculous run away healthcare costs in order to make ir more affordable. Noone admonishing their leadership for lying about the program that the sheep were expected to wave like a flag. Rather lets all fall inline and be zealots around a plan that forces all to buy services they don't need, has caused millions to lose their healthcare, contains thousands of pages that noone in the administration admits to have read, is fronted by a billion dollar front end that wasn't tested and can't get off the ground. PLUS is not accepted by those that this was pimped for. NOT OPINION. Look at the adoption numbers. Ugh.
      But yes... by all means lets keep talking about how Great a plan this is.

      Again, any wonder why the author of this amateurish essay and those in these replys are attemping to deflect 100% away from the above and targeting religion?

      Seriuosly people?

      November 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Ed Bruning

    The catch is if those 25 states accept the Medicaid expansion the federal government only pays for the first 2 years. After that the states are on the hook for paying it. To do that those states will need to drastically raise taxes. So no thank you. I'm glad my state has opted to not accept the Medicaid expansion because I'm not willing to pay another dime to support someone I don't know.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Ed as the author of this piece, and someone who has talked to experts on the health care law, I can confidently say this: You are wrong about the funding for ACA. You say the states are "on the hook" after the feds pick up 100 percent of the cost for the first two years. not true. the feds will CONTINUE TO PAY NO LESS THAN 90 PERCENT OF THE COST OF THE ENTIRE BILL AFTER THE FIRST THEY PAY FOR 100 PERCENT OF THE COST FOR THE FIRST THREE YEARS. That means states would never pay more than 10 percent of the cost. I wouldn't call that putting states 'on the hook."

      November 11, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Scholar

      You are paying already for thoe who have no health insurance and who must go to the hospital emergency room under the federal EMTA law. My own county property taxes (in Broward County FL) amount to $450 in fees paid in yearly tax bill to pay for uninsured hospital ER medical care as well as other medical care providers. There are other fees for the common good such as police, fire etc.

      Insurance is founded on spreading the risk of need over a large population. I have paid auto insurance for 40 years and have not had claims, so my premiums have gone to cover accidents by and to others. I have paid premiums for flood insurance for ten years on my property only to find that, now, the latest FEMA FIRM maps shown my property is and has been in an X zone meaning I don't need flood insurance, so I've been paying for the flood damages to others, such as storm Sandy in NJ.
      And so it goes. Insurance means that the risk is shared among a large pool of people. No church, regardless of how large, is capable of providing for all in the community. On the other hand, communities such as the Amish are covered by their own group, for all members, they self-insure and are thus exempted from the ACA, from Social Security and so on because they already have benefit from a group plan of their own making. Most would call their common sense approach socialism and look down on it instead of considering it as the Christian approach it is.

      November 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Gordon

    Jamie Foxx made the statement "Obama is our Savior" Christ said give unto Ceasor what is Ceasor's, give on to God what is God's. So if Obama is our Savior, then he must be god, so I guess I just need to sign my bank account over to him, because as each day passes, in what is Fairness, he keeps taking a little more and more of it. To blame Chruchs from The Affordable Care Acts failures is just stupid. I am a devout Christian, and a little bit of a scholar, but I never read what Rev. Mcdonald teaches. It would have been cheaper for the government to just write a check to Blue Cross or United Healthcare to cover the cost of the premiums of what it is now costing the American Tax payer in additional taxes and increased health insurance premiums to cover Obamacare. So far, $500,000,000.00 (500 million) for a website and enrollment system that does not work just for starts.

    November 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • alexusf

      I agree with most of what you said but you commented that you are a "little bit of a scholar" and then spelled Caesar, CESOR. It doesn't help your point much.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  6. df

    Paying for stuff stinks!

    November 11, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  7. T. Storm

    It also does not address those of us who don not have it, do not want it, do not need it & will not use it. Total waste of money. Raise my taxes to take cre of those too poor to get it,... but do not force me to buy something I do not want. What I buy or don't buy is my choice alone, not the government's.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • vickie

      So, I assume you don't drive a car? We are "forced" to buy car insurance! Gasp! What an injustice.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
      • Jeff

        Wrong wrong wrong wrong. You are forced to buy auto insurance if you CHOOSE to own and drive an auto. Now you are forced to buy medical insurance simply because you CHOOSE to breathe? See, it's not quite the same. One is a choice you make, the other isn't.

        I hope you get the sarcasm of my "CHOOSE to breathe" phrase, but just in case you don't, I point it out to you.

        November 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
        • Brother Maynard

          Jeff
          Are you saying that you CHOOSE never to need medical attention?
          So you are choosing to never get into a car accident? You are choosing to never get cancer. You are choosing that your son never breaks his arm?

          November 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
      • ambrose

        Driving is a privlege. You are not manadated to drive a car, but if you do, you must be insured. Obamacare forces you to buy insurance just because you exist.

        November 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
        • Makikijoe

          As well you should be.

          I don't want to pay for your irresponsibility (for not getting health insurance).

          November 11, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  8. Think about it

    One time in our country there was an education gap. Government mandated laws of education for all and now an overwhelming majority of Americans are educated. So it will be with The affordable care act. The Reverend McDonald took a courageous step. I applaud him. However the other preachers decide not to get involved in contentious debates as the New Testament warns. Rather they chose to focus on salvation. I fault none of these preachers with what they decide not to speak about. Both Jesus and the Jewish Prophet Isaiah command us to care for the less fortunate and help them. America should put down its foreign intervention policing the world and take care of its own. We. Should curtain funds to confused governments like Egypt and Pakistan and become a Good Samaritan to out sick and dying neighbors with our foreign intervention funds.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Think about it, indeed

      Since the Government got into education, the overall quality of education has decreased. So it will be with the Affordable Care Act.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • bob

      lol. you went there?
      "Government mandated laws of education for all and now an overwhelming majority of Americans are educated. So it will be with The affordable care act."
      unfortunately, i think that i have to agree with your statement. but not in the way you meant it.

      http://nypost.com/2013/10/08/us-adults-are-dumber-than-the-average-human/

      November 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  9. seoras

    The Obama administration promised to support only two years of medicaid expansion through Obamacare. After that the states would be on their own. Most of them simply cannot afford it. This is the major reason why so many states declined to expand medicaid services, not because the hate the poor or hate Obama. Its about money.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • sean

      Texas can afford it and most of the states that say they can't take more money from the government than they contribute in taxes...you need to check the facts...there on the internet you just need to look in the right places...IE Fox News not the right place

      November 11, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Makikijoe

      Sorry but I'm not buying the lie that "they can't afford it". Every state has the power to raise taxes. The problem is that most states in the Bible Belt are controlled by conservative Republicans who have been convinced that, as Reagan said it, "government is the problem". But it was government which started the most effective anti-poverty program in the history of our country. It's called Social Security. Because of that "government mandated" program, the percentage of seniors living in poverty in the U.S. is less than half of what is was before the program. Likewise with the Medicare program. Before that program was begun, millions of Americans lived in fear of having no health care when they got older. Now, ALL American seniors have the peace of mind of knowing that they have at least SOME coverage for health problems when they get old. Having a Medicare card will at least give a poor senior the dignity of being able to get his foot in the door of a hospital or doctor's office with some dignity. And not be looked down upon as a a charity case.

      It's sad the way so many poor people in Bible Belt states continue to vote for creeps like Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. Frankly, I don't know how Ted Cruz and John Cornyn sleep at night, knowing that they could have done something to help millions of Texans get access to health care, and yet they did not.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Jay

    So why don't the churches pay for some coverage for those in need? They love to TALK the talk but where are the actions? Churches and non-profits across this country have TRILLIONS and yes it is TRILLIONS all tucked away in nice savings and investments that have never been taxed and that they just sit on and don't further their stated non-profit mission with – its time for them to start using that money or give up there tax exempt status! There are some good organizations out there but when the magazine The Non-Profit Times reports that the Salvation Army is sitting on $ 6.9 billion dollars you know that there is cash to be used that isn't being used.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  11. Freddie B

    Wow. they INCONVENIENTLY forgot to mention the MILLIONS of people who are losing coverage because of Obamacare's 10 Commandments...I guess I do have to agree with Palin for once, IT IS ANOTHER RELIGION!

    November 11, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  12. lt_murgen

    Gee, you kick religion in the teeth with the mandate to cover abortion services and birth control, and then get offended when they do not back the law?
    I can't believe even Liberals are that dense.

    November 11, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  13. PrepperSingleMama

    I'm one of those workimg poor who may be within the coverage gap. I'm the single mom of three who works at a small Christian non profit and makes under twenty thousand before child support. I work with others like me on a daily basis, helping the poor. But I still don't think the affordable care act is good. Jesus healed everyone, but he didn't take from others to do it. We help people solely from donations: freely given donations. While I see people genuinely in need,I also see many people who use the system with no plans to ever better themselves or their situation. I still help them, but they are content (or fatalistic) with their dependency. What am I going to do? I'm going to have to get a better paying job and let someone else take over the ministry. Because I don't want to be dependent. Maybe people in the coverage gap should stop expecting someone else to take of them and remember that the Bible also says "he who doesn't work, doesn't eat".

    November 11, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Adam

      Amen...God bless you!

      November 11, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Here2Opine

      Excellent post, not many can clearly see both sides of a situation as you have described. Have a fantastic day!

      November 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • FSM PRT

      Well, that's fine that you help with donations. I don't think you receive enough donations to help everybody. And since your god has completely abandoned humans, only the government is willing and able to help the vast majority of the poor.

      November 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • tallulah13

      So as a single mother who falls in the gap created by your state's policies, what would you do if your child is diagnosed with cancer or gets hit by a car? Do you forego a trip to the hospital because you can't afford it, or do you take your child to the hospital, knowing that if you are uninsured you can't be turned away? Uninsured patients only pay an average of 12% of their hospital bill. The rest is payed by the Federal government.

      I wonder how long you christian pride and republican selfishness would survive if you became the one in desperate need.

      November 11, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 11, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • doobzz

      Tell that to the Filipino people who just got hit with one of the biggest typhoons in history.

      November 11, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • Al

      Prayer has no place in public schools, just like facts have no place in organized religion.

      School superintendent
      The Simpsons

      November 11, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • JL

      Getting off your christian duff and helping people changes things. Prayer is an excuse and a poor one for not ACTING on your beleifs!

      November 11, 2013 at 11:46 am |
      • Observer

        Prayer changes things

        November 11, 2013 at 11:51 am |
        • Observer

          fake Observer,

          Prayer didn't do a thing for all the Christians in the Philippines who died praying.

          Ooops.

          November 11, 2013 at 11:54 am |
        • Rob

          Such an ignorant comment. A sarchastic jab was the first thing that came to you during this time of unprecedented destruction?

          I do hope that one day you find piece.

          November 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  15. jb1963

    The bible belt gets what is deserves. They listen to some crackpot and become brainwashed with their version of facts instead of researching for themselves. They are all lambs being led to the slaughter house.

    November 11, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • jack2

      For a monent i thought you were taling about the Obama lackies

      November 11, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Rob

      Ha. Nice.
      Insert obama campaign promise here

      November 11, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  16. Dave

    What a bonehead. Does anyone really believe all the spew that comes from the mouths of these self ordained moon pies? It it events like these that created hundreds of followers to do things that were unacceptable to others after being all sutured up. It is usual the weak minded that follow a self lead crusade against others. We have government and policies that Thea care of events this "leader" crusade's for.

    November 11, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  17. Dr. Robert F. Allison

    When most evil is corporate and on a massive scale, most remedies must be organizational-mostly public. but,
    the New Testament was written when evil was mostly individual and remedies likewise. Consequently, Jesus used
    individual remedies to individual problems and sins. Were he to walk the earth in person now he would be relevant by addressing public policies that address public, corporate evil of a massive scale. Were the South and its congregational-type churches not in cultural captivity, they could address this reality. As it is, they are handcuffed by conservative members.

    November 11, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You talk about mythical men, then claim it is reality?
      You do not know if the jesus stroy is reality, as a matter of fact, since much of the bible is so clearly flawed, it makes the whole of it suspect. You do of course rwalize that the whole story of jesus is taken from previous cultures right?
      So what makes you think it has anything to do with reality?

      November 11, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Dave

      Here is an example of another bonehead oblivious of the real world and the corrupt political machines at work.

      November 11, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  18. tidho

    The bible teaches that we should help one another.

    It does not however suggest we should support government mandates of non cost effective inefficient social programs. There is nothing in the bible bestowing virtue on the inefficiency and ineffectiveness rampent in anything the Federal Government touches.

    November 11, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • doobzz

      Do you base your belief on what the bible says, or what it doesn't say?

      November 11, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • whitepine

      Saying that the government can't help the poor and needy is pretty lame. They are our citizens. What about this notion that we are a Christian nation. The poor aren't getting enough help from the churches and charities. And look around you. Why does the Bible belt have some of the poorest and most uninsured people? It seems that the Christians are failing them.

      November 11, 2013 at 11:03 am |
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About this blog

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.