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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. The Realist

    Well we have seen that the ACA is definitely not affordable. You can't keep your old insurance even if you liked it and it was cheaper. What part should we work on? Vote for another bill that we don't know what is in it. Chris Matthews says the Republicans don't have a plan which I agree with. The Democrats passed a bill that they had no idea what was in, according to Nancy Pelosi and everyone else. Now 5 million people get their insurance cancelled and .001 million sign up for the ACA, a 5,000 to 1 ratio. This bill doesn't do what is needed. Don't ask the Republicans to fix your screw ups.

    November 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      ...............This isn't an ACA problem. These policies were grandfathered in to allow people to keep these insufficient policies. This just proves why we need the ACA. ANY policy obtained after ACA went into law WILL NOT allow insurance companies to cancel policies.

      November 12, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
      • bob

        "insufficient policies"?? you are speaking for the millions now that have lost their policies? the news is littered with report after report after report of first hand accounts of people upset that they lost their policy that they liked. but in typical commie lib fashion, please go right on ahead and tell them what they need.
        "grandfathered in"
        chief it sounds like you didnt get the memo. this debacle (shout out John) is so bad even the democrats are running from it and trying to look productive by attempting to get the policies back for the millions of Americans that like their policy.
        http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/12/clinton-obama-should-honor-commitment-on-keeping-health-plans/?hpt=hp_t2
        http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/healthcare/190031-feinstein-becomes-5th-dem-on-bill-fixing-obamacare

        November 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Since these policies were grandfathered in they were operating as if the ACA did not exist. These ins. companies did what they always have done. Cancel policies when people need them the most. The ACA is a scapegoat for them. You see ex. of ins. corruption all the time. Look at natural disasters. People thought they had home owner coverage, but ins. comapanies would find loop holes to deny payment. Your anger should be with the ins. company. But since hating Obama gets you by. Obama is your target.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Nance

      Republicans couldn't fix a sandwich if their lives depended on it.

      November 12, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
      • bob

        well that depends. would we be ordering this sandwich via a multi-million dollar website that wont work? could we raise the debt ceiling to fund this fix? or could we tax someone for the funding? and do i have to take all of the condiments? because i only want a few. but as i understand it, its `all the way or nothing`.

        November 12, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
        • Mike

          When has an insurance company tailor-made a health plan for you, and just you, alone? The answer? Never.

          November 12, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
        • bob

          Mike
          "When has an insurance company tailor-made a health plan for you, and just you, alone? The answer? Never."
          Thats not a point that was brought up here. no-one ever suggested that. you reached a bit. but i'll play along. No-one ever said that the insurance companies tailor made `just for you` insurance policies. they damn sure cant now thats for sure. we all get to pay for services that we'll never use.
          but to your point, i never had a problem selecting from service and deductible levels, etc. in truth i as with most folks never looked fwd to paying for insurance. i never woke up thinking `i want to spend $$ on insurance`. but i know i need it so i get it. but again, yes. i could select from services and not select things that i didnt want. in fact every friggin year at open enrollment, i have the right to tweak.
          getting back on topic.... again, even the dems are seeing that this lie regarding keeping your policy was a blatant and obviously known LIE at the time it was spoken.
          http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/11/13/top-democrat-joins-push-on-health-plans-after-clinton-obamacare-critique/
          why would they be doing this i wonder?....

          November 13, 2013 at 8:56 am |
      • wowreally

        We dont want to fix any horrible embarassing debacles that your pathietc sorry excuse for an administration FORCED upon the american people under lies and scare tactics..you get to enjoy your hope and change all to yourself, You made your bed u vile wench, now SLEEP IN IT!

        November 13, 2013 at 2:00 am |
        • Ken Margo

          Let me guess. You watch the fox entertainment channel AKA Fox news.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
      • Tracy

        Even though I think this article is misguided (see my other posts) I do agree with you on this. While I tend to agree more with the Republican point of view, they, like Democrats and all politicians are not good stewards of tax payer money. Government programs, wars (Bush) we taxpayers pay for, bailouts, handouts are all money down the toilet. These guys are no comparison to the people who run the best companies in America.

        November 13, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Pandamonius

      Those 5 million did not have their insurance cancelled because of ACA. They did not have insurance to begin with, and because of the State's refusal to accept the new law, they do not qualify for insurance now, even though people who make less, do.

      ACA didn't cause this problem. The states in question did.

      November 13, 2013 at 10:45 am |
  2. Bob

    Wow. Now if you don't believe the government is the solution to every problem, you aren't following the bible? This is a one-sided article that pretends to be fair. Shameless leftist propaganda.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  3. JAY

    Christians worship money in the name of GOD, that's why so many hate poor people, and helping the poor.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Tracy

      I can easily see how you'd make such a statement as so many of the Christians covered me the media are the flashy bling types like Osteen and others. But you really have look at what churches are doing actually dong in order make an accurate statement about Christians and how the overwhelming majority of churches and membership really do help the poor in a big way.

      The journalist who wrote this article seems to be creating an issue for the sake of creating a straw man "story" rather than really doing research and giving us statistics that justify his position. It's a great way to distract people from the metastasizing debacle of Obamacare.

      Our church is has maybe 700 in our congregation. On a regular basis we send folks out to L.A,'s skid row to distribute food and close. And and a weekly basis, we host dinners for the poor. On a personal level, my family's account says (hopefully jokingly) that we give to much money away to charity. I think you'll find this to be more representative of the actions of church people than the superficial fluff of this article.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
      • Tracy

        I mean to say "my family's accountant..."

        November 12, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
      • John BlakeCNN

        5 million working poor who won't get basic health insurance that they could get if their states accepted Obamacare is not a straw man. It's a fact. No one disputes that. The question: Should pastors in these Bible Belt states say anything publicly on behalf of these poor people? You mention how much your church does to help the poor. That's is good to hear, but you fail to explain how individual churches can help address a problem as massive as 48 million people without health insurance, and health insurance companies turning people away with preexisting conditions. Charity can't address certain issues. Only justice can. I hear people criticize the ACA "debacle" all the time. That's fine. But I never hear them recommend a plausible alternative for 48 million people without health insurance.

        November 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Thank you John. But don't expect a reasonable answer back. The anti Obama bigots live in their own little deranged world.

          November 12, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
        • Sara

          In a state-based rather than national benefits system the game is played by keeping offerings to the poor lower than your neighbors so you can maintain the best possible rich to poor ratio. When you don't play the game, you end up sc3wed. The only way to win is to change the system, and blaming folks at the state level isn't going to help anything. The approach has to be federal or its a waste of time.

          November 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • Rob

          "5 million working poor who won't get basic health insurance that they could get if their states accepted”

          Funny thing about that is that those people that we keep hearing about have to sign up and pay. How are those numbers looking?

          “It's a fact. No one disputes that”

          the facts dispute that. You are saying 5 million (way to generalize all the types of people in the number by the way). So you are using absolute numbers as in `lots don’t have it today but all of those would if everyone embraced obamacare`. So, lets look at the states that do accept it. Again, how are those numbers looking? Obamacare depends on the young and healthy. How many have rushed to sign up?

          “but you fail to explain how individual churches can help address a problem as massive as 48 million people without health insurance”

          You are the one that posed that question. And again I ask you… seriously?? You are deflecting to religion? Obamacare has turned out to be the least thought out amaturistics garbage to come out of the white house lately (and that’s saying somthing). Churches have been giving to the poor for centuries longer than is relevant here. You guys are the first to blast religious leaders for poking their noses into anything ESPECIALLY government. But now you deflect from obamacare to call them out to quote “explain how individual churches can help address a problem as massive as 48 million people without health insurance”.

          ??? How about the union leaders? The big Obama supporters. They are rich. What is their plan? Oh wait, they’ve been lobbying to get exemptions themselves. Hell, they don’t want it.

          “But I never hear them recommend a plausible alternative for 48 million people without health insurance.”

          I did. See Rob November 11, 2013 at 12:49 pm

          I mention why not attach a jobs bill to help put people to work so that they can afford insurance? Even better why not attack the run-away healthcare costs. Getting control of that would definitely make healthcare easier to afford.

           But you know what, the latter is actually very funny. I mentioned attacking the rising healthcare costs. Why is that not an obvious point to be addressed?? Then I ran across something today that made me laugh.

          http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/11/12/at-least-one-group-americans-loves-obamacare/
          That explainded that.

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

          Rob, Obamacare is pretty much the exact same system the Swiss have had in place for years which is expensive (ours already was) but highly effective. The only problem we have is not penalizing people enough for not signing up. If I hear one more idiot 30 year old talking about how he doesn't want to have insurance and thinks a functioning societywould leave him to die on the streets I'll just write off the lot of them. If you don't understand basic economics and sociology please stay away from the polls.

          November 13, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Tracy

          I do not see why you think making a public statement about health insurance some how trumps directly feeding the poor. If you examine the degree to which the blabber from various politicians, late-night comedians, and journalists have moved this forward, you tell me how much that has helped. If you examine the before before/after picture after this misguided program got launched tell me how much it has helped. Tell six months from now how much it has helped. With the exception Bin Laden, tell me how much program and talk by this president have help, No - we're in the trenches. We're dirty work that te rest of society doesn't want to do. You want to stand in front of mike and talk. Go right ahead.

          November 13, 2013 at 11:22 am |
        • Tracy

          Sorry for the typos. I have business to run 🙂

          November 13, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • Tide

          John,
          Why in this case are you singling out the pastors? Why not include all faith-based organizations? Why not include leaders of charities? Even in Leviticus, there are commands to help the orphans and poor. It just seems that we are asking the pastor are not standing up and speaking out for the uninsured but not holding everyone to the same standard.

          November 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • bob

      lol. yes. thats correct. religious people hate the poor. lol.

      November 12, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  4. Dean

    . 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.-----------------Wondering why you have to make a certain amount of money to qualify for subsidies??????????Maybe because the subsidies are in the form of income tax credits and if you don't make enough money to pay any taxes you can't have a tax credit??????

    November 12, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Cyndi

      I'm in agreement with you Dean. If you are making $18000 but somehow that's not enough to get subsidies? Something else is going on there. I have no doubt she's working at Chic Fil-A but I'm wondering if 100% of the 18000 is actually coming from there because if she isn't filing taxes because she doesn't make enough (which 18000 is beyond enough to be filing), then she's getting paid under the table somewhere and the employer isn't reporting everything. Hopefully it was just a mis-statement.

      November 12, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • Nance

        Georgia did not accept the Medicaid expansion. The ACA subsidies aren't available to her because...Georgia chose not to MAKE them available to her. Get it?

        November 12, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
        • MG

          http://dch.georgia.gov/eligibility-criteria-chart

          Ms. Mitchell qualifies for Medicaid under the current requirements...if she really makes $18k and has four kids. Maybe the author didn't check his facts. If he had, he would have found that she does qualify. It took me one google search and 30 seconds to find that information. Looks like he's the one who would rather score political points than actually help someone

          November 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  5. RC

    The ones that didn't speak do not need CNN or 5 minutes of fame.
    Jesus also said we will always have the poor. If you really cared you would be focused on their souls not your number of readers.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  6. LISAANN

    They didn't have any trouble getting political during regular services and telling us who to vote for in 2012; now they are staying out of politics and won't speak out? Those on the religious-right need to remember what true Christianity is all about; helping the poor, serving our fellow man, and peace. This is sinful and everyone should let their pastors/religious leaders know that it is not acceptable to sacrafice the least of our society based on political partyism and they should be our leaders now that we need them.

    November 12, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • bob

      "They didn't have any trouble getting political during regular services and telling us who to vote for in 2012; now they are staying out of politics and won't speak out?"
      WTH kind of double speak is this? Obama owes his election to the minority church. his organizers mastered the church organization movement.
      the one saying that they are staying out is the author. and again...??... if i were a leader of a large organization (church or otherwise) that donates, runs charity, etc, etc then some blog author of a left wing religion bashing rag reached out to me to call me out personally for not doing more.... the nicest thing i could possibly do is not reply. LOL but you take that as admission of some `scandal`. nice.

      November 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  7. Reality # 2

    Once again some incentives to live a healthy life style and also ways to pay for universal health care.

    1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcoholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, other tobacco products, high caloric/fatty foods??)

    2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay signficantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).

    3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.

    4. No universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs e.g. not wearing a condom.

    5. No universal health coverage for abortions unless the life of the mother is at significant risk and judged to be so by at least two doctors.

    6. No universal health coverage for euthanasia.

    7. No foreign aid given to countries who abort females simply because they are female.

    Your ideas?
    ========================================================================

    November 12, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Mike

      Isn't that big government telling you how to live your life? Not exactly the libertarian viewpoint. You know why that won't fly? Because to implement your plan would require MORE oversight; bigger government. And it is quite large enough, thank you.

      Euthanasia? Really? We do this NOW?

      You have many ideas how to restrict people's individual freedoms. How about helping to cut down on the amount of gunshot wounds and deaths by restricting GUNS? That won't fly, either.

      November 12, 2013 at 11:14 am |
      • Reality # 2

        And your ideas for providing and paying for health care are?

        Big government? What is wrong with big government? For example, without said big government, we would not have the US Marines in the Philippines helping a very battered country. Nor would we have an aircraft carrier et. al. steaming to the area with added assistance.

        Might want to sit down and make a list of why big government is important in your daily life.

        And the last time I checked, we are all part of big government whether you vote or not.

        November 12, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
        • Mike

          My plan? Single-payer. The problem with your plan is that it would require such a large government oversight that you would never and I mean never get the GOP on board with that.
          Where have you been for the last 5 years?

          Your wish list is behavior you don't approve of, but you will never be able to restrict individual's rights to be as stupid as they want to be.

          November 12, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Mike........Please stop with the big gov't nonsense. Look at the countries in the middle east! They do absolutly nothing for their people. Gov't couldn't get any smaller there. Is that what you want over here?

        "How about helping to cut down on the amount of gunshot wounds and deaths by restricting GUNS? That won't fly, either."

        Restricting guns would save you and every other taypayer a ton of money in taxes. Unfortunately a lot of victims of gun violence DO NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. So gues who pays the bill. YOU. So the next time your taxes rise give a big shout out to those guns you love so much.

        November 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
        • Mike

          I was talking about that huge oversight it would take to implement Reality's plan. You think that's a good idea? With the gigantic hissy fit that the GOP is having now?? Really? Really?

          Nice assumption that you made that I love guns because I mentioned something ELSE that the GOP is recalcitrant to address. I am firmly for sane gun control. Apparently you aren't. Who is the gun lover??

          November 12, 2013 at 11:46 pm |
        • bob

          "Look at the countries in the middle east! They do absolutly nothing for their people. Gov't couldn't get any smaller there. Is that what you want over here?"
          Really?? first off... racist much? second, you are comparing middle east countries that do little for their people as the example of what smaller government would naturally look like here..??

          November 12, 2013 at 11:58 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Mike,

          Single payer? And who might that be? And that is your only idea to help insti-tute universal health care insurance? And putting added taxes on tobacco et al products would not require added oversight since said systems are in place. As a matter of fact, there already is in place oversight (e.g. police, doctors, clinics) in the other potential methods of paying for heath care and improving health in general.

          November 12, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          @mike..............H3ll no i'm not a gun lover. If I could snap my fingers I would make them all disappear.

          Your comment "bigger gov't" sounds very republican. Usually when someone complains about "bigger gov't" that's code for I don't want to help people.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  8. barbara

    If there are problems with the affordable Care Act. work together to fix them, government, churches, the public. Everyone must pull together for the good of all.

    November 12, 2013 at 6:40 am |
  9. angelaott

    More often than not, a comfortable Christian isn't a Christian at all.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  10. Reality # 2

    Once again:

    Tis a matter of money and paying off our debts:

    How do we do that when we are paying huge amounts to keep Islam under control??
    ===============================================================================

    November 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • M. Conrad

      OK, people. Do the (journalist's) math. HALF of the county- statewise- doesn't want, hasn't "accepted" the Medicaid expansion. Leaving (an estimated) 5 million citizens- we're assuming this pertains to citizens, right?- out of (an estimated) 318,000,000- and why the hell does this coverage "gap" keep being touted by Kaiser?- on e of the largest PacNW providers, poised to quadruple its income. 318 million, minus 5 equals diddley. Oh yeah, there's my penalty, too. For making good health choices, being the captain of my own ship, and oh yeah, not needing the prop-wearing stethoscope of a doctor to tell me what I already know!!!!!

      November 12, 2013 at 12:28 am |
      • Reality # 2

        Once again some incentives to live a healthy life style and also ways to pay for universal health care.

        1. An added two dollar health insurance tax (or higher) on a pack of cigarettes. Ditto taxes on alcoholic beverages, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the tax. Ditto for any product shown to be unhealthy (e.g. guns, other tobacco products, high caloric/fatty foods??)

        2. Physicals akin to those required for life insurance- the overly obese will pay signficantly more Medicare and universal health insurance (unless the obesity is caused by a medical condition).

        3. No universal health care coverage for drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or using cell phones while driving.

        4. No universal health coverage for drug addicts or for those having self-inflicted STDs e.g. not wearing a condom.

        5. No universal health coverage for abortions unless the life of the mother is at significant risk and judged to be so by at least two doctors.

        6. No universal health coverage for euthanasia.

        7. No foreign aid given to countries who abort females simply because they are female.

        Your ideas?

        November 12, 2013 at 8:32 am |
        • Mike

          Once again, your ideas require massive over site that most people won't want to pay for. Not to mention who gets to decide? You? Talk about a death panel.

          November 12, 2013 at 11:18 am |
  11. NotBuyingIt

    Seems like they want to get the kids to pay for the poor.

    And the Walmart family, GE, Johnson & Johnson family, Warren Buffet, and other 1% still don't have to pay their taxes. And Microsoft, Apple, etc are still on some offshore island somewhere snuggling with the money.

    November 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      "The latest data show that a big portion of the federal income tax burden is shoul¬dered by a small group of the very richest Americans. The wealthiest 1 percent of the population earn 19 per¬cent of the income but pay 37 percent of the income tax. The top 10 percent pay 68 percent of the tab. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent—those below the median income level—now earn 13 percent of the income but pay just 3 percent of the taxes. These are proportions of the income tax alone and don’t include payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare."

      http://www.american.com/archive/2007/november-december-magazine-contents/guess-who-really-pays-the-taxes

      Obviously, we need more rich people to reduce my tax burden !!!

      November 11, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  12. washingtonreporter

    If they are as poor as the hyperbolic preacher portends, they qualify for Medicaid.

    November 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Makikijoe

      In some states, you must be VERY poor to qualify for Medicaid. My sister, a New York resident, was told a couple of years ago that she did NOT qualify for Medicaid, despite having a monthly income of only about $1100 and a rent of $900 per month. And the Section 8 program is not taking any new applications and hasn't for a while.

      P.S. Many states. particularly in the South, have even stricter income qualifications for receiving Medicaid than New York has.

      November 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  13. ccb

    I think it is totally disgraceful for those ministers whom God has favored with an international platform not to speak up and out about the poor and those that do not have health insurance! I am quite sure that they have some of these folk right there in their own congregations. I would like to see these 'pastors' look into the eyes of these members and tell them why they are not speaking out on this matter. If the Tea Party-GOP have a better plan let's hear it but THEY DO NOT HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN, and they do not care about the poor at all. I wish I could write a letter to these so called leaders that would challenge them but I know that their people would intercept such a letter. But I continue to pray that because of this one pastor, these others would be biblically challenged to open their own Bibles to confront our so-called political leaders not only on this issue, but what about all the other sins spoken of in God's Word, not just abortion and gay rights.

    November 11, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  14. Mason Myatt

    The preachers are right when they say that the Christian churches have the duty to care for the sick and feed the hungry. They also confuse me. Over 90% of Americans claim to be Christian with over 70% claiming to be conservative evangelicals. So, with all those Christians underfoot, WHY do we have millions of hungry, homeless citizens? If those claiming to be Christian would read and honor the Sermon on the Mount, the government would not need to intervene on behalf of the poor. The conservative Christians attack Obamacare as unnecessary governmental involvement in our lives even as they continue to ignore the millions of needy people. We are told that Christ denounced the hypocrites crying "Lord, Lord" on the street corners. If they are right about a Judgment Day, they need to mend their own ways rather than attack Obama for trying to do what they refuse to do.

    November 11, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Sara

      Where are you getting your stats? Fewer than 80% in the US claim to be Christian. 73% in 2012:

      http://religions.pewforum.org/reports
      http://www.pewforum.org/2012/10/09/nones-on-the-rise/

      And a minority of those are evangelical.

      November 11, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  15. electandchosen

    Shhh! stop knocking the "so called" churches and the Gov't. If you (everyone here) cared so much, walk out of your front door, find someone who needs healthcare and YOU take care of them! \(0_0)/

    November 11, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Larry

      Well said,

      November 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  16. rino

    Hell is waiting for Osteen and company. I think these guys are atheist anyway.

    November 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Murray

      No true Scotsman?

      You 're right only YOU are the true Christian.

      November 11, 2013 at 4:38 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.