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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. gahh

    There's a reason why these mega church preachers live in mansions, while the poorest people in our society, live in shacks. The mega preachers say nothing about the wealthiest in this country giving nothing to help the poor because they want that money, given to them. Olsten and Jakes are mega church hypocrites. None of the money they collect goes to help the poor, it's all for them, and their big mansions, and limosines. Sickening!

    November 25, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
  2. Ken Margo

    You have people on this blog that whine constantly "the gov't can't do this" "The gov't shouldn' do that" The problem with that logic is that private sector isn't solving the problem either. 40 million plus uninsured isn't a working plan since the public is stuck with the ER bill when the uninsured can't pay it. ANYONE that has a better (working) plan PLEASE LET'S HEAR IT. There are only two options available. Either single payer (Gov't pays for everyone) or a Mandate (Obamacare/Romneycare) If you have another plan, no need to hold back.

    November 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Tracy

      It a relative thing Ken. Business does a better job, especially if they are incentivzed to do so.

      It's a Darwinian thing as well. The government does not compete with anyone. It just sucks money out of the taxpayer. When it makes mistakes, it sucks even more money out of the taxpayer. It is not held accountable for it's screw-ups. If Obamacare had been private business, it would have been shut down for false advertising and for having a site that exposure users to to having their private info hacked.

      But of course that's not happening because the government is not held accountable.

      November 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Ok Tracy, I get it. The gov't is the problem. The gov't isn't held accountable. Whose fault is that? We do vote. You are not part of the gov't so lets hear YOUR plan.

        While you think of a plan here's mine. If you don't want to buy health insurance, then register at DNA (Do Not Assist) If you get sick or injured NOBODY helps you. The hospital has the right to refuse you. That way the taxpayer isn't stuck with the bill.

        November 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • Tracy

          Ken: I'm glad you brought up voting. Now really. let's get real. While I'm a Registered Republican, I think Bush did a terrible job. He got us into an expensive and possibly unnecessary war. National debt went through the roof. I kept wondering how such a moron got elected. He's was hardly a strong leader. But he and also Obama are great illustration of why I wonder whether the power of the vote means that much these days.

          Obama to Democrats is image. A wonderful symbol. I admire him. But I don't he's been much of a president for reasons I've stated in other posts in this thread.

          If you and everyone else would, for moment drop all your labels of Republican, Democrat, Liberal...Conservative and simply look at what working and what's not working, a wondrous clarity of reason takes hold. All of sudden, if you are totally honest with yourself, you are not longer seeing Democrats are always right. You hopefully see the flaws in Obama.

          Which prompts me to wonder, what do our vote mean any more when elections are fought on the basis of huge amounts of money and high tech manipulation of social media?

          Let me ask you this Ken. How many people can you name that you'd prefer to be president than Obama? For sure, I could name quote a few people I would have preferred over Romney. That, in itself, really says it all.

          November 26, 2013 at 12:55 am |
        • Ken Margo

          Tracy...................I still didn't see YOUR plan. Solve the problem of the uninsured. You criticize the ACA yet you seen to be short on ideas to replace it. I'll make it easier on you. HOW WOULD YOU CHANGE IT to address your concerns. I've told you the good things he's done but since you're a republican you have been programmed not to like it. Here's another one for ya. Passed the lily ledbetter act to allow women (like yourself) to sue for back pay if you did the same work as a man for less wages. That law applies to repubs, democrats, tea partiers and independents. a law that empowers women, treats women like equals. But since you're an republican I know you wont like it.

          Considering the clowns the repubs have been showcasing (cruz, rubio and paul just to name three) It looks like Hilary in 2016. I voted for Hilary in the primary in '08 because I didn't know Barack Obama. Trust me he's done things I don't like either (invade Libya being one) but overall I have no regrets.

          November 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • guest

      unfortunately you will still see the ER bill – because that is a law to not refuse treatment AND you are not mandated to take Insurance (you can pay fine).. therefore THAT issue won't be solved.

      November 26, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        The penalty for not having insurance will go up. So the incentive not to have insurance will go away. Atleast currently those w/o insurance will pay (a fine) into the system, instead of paying nothing at all.

        November 29, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  3. lol??

    Why can't anybody that wants a FREE WAIVER get it??

    November 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  4. Tracy

    Of all recent presidents including Clinton, Obama has been the most "government heavy," pumping money into stimulus, Green Energy, GM and Chrysler (even though the success of Ford proved that it was the latter two poorly run companies had themselves to blame) and now ACA. And now the debt has grown more under Obama's first four years than it did under Bush entire eight years in office. Most people fail to comprehend just how disastrous a $17 Trillion Debt is, until as we saw a month or two ago, the government almost shuts down. Of course, we're going to face up that in early 2014.

    What kind of insanity is this? It's like if, in 1998, Apple Computer decided to bet the entire company on the Newton.

    So the clear conclusion is that more government programs seem to be a waste of taxpayer money because the government tends to plan and execute poorly.

    I am not party-centric and I don't think this is an issue of Republicans vs. Democrats. But it just so happens that the path to a better tomorrow is less government and putting the best and incentivizing the smartest people in private industry to solve our country's problems.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Science Works

      A must read and where is Ted Cruz and Bush from ?

      And the state of Texas is the talking snake no ?

      Bill Nye: Debate Over Evolution In Texas Schools Is Jeopardizing Our Future

      Posted: 11/23/2013 5:01 pm EST | Updated: 11/23/2013 7:28 pm EST
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/23/evolution-in-texas-schools_n_4330218.html

      And another part of the problem is the RCC's biblical stand on procreation when they teach and supposedly understand evolution.

      Evolution should not be up for debate.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:34 am |
      • Eric

        science works as long as it is real science. Evolution is a false teaching with too many gaps and holes to be proven. Hence, that is why it is still to this day referred to as theory. Too many times I see the lies told by such desperate people as blake here. The media is not to be trusted at all, just because a blowhard says it, doesn't make it the truth. The truth is Jesus is the ONLY WAY to GOD he is the way the truth and the life. No matter how hard you try it won't change this truth. So my advice is turn off the TV open up the bible and read the truth for yourselves. BTW..... 1776

        November 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          You can read either the bible or a harry potter book. Both are fiction. You'll gain nothing from reading them and you'll sound just as delusional as you did before reading either book.

          November 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • Science Works

          Hey eric geology eworks, the debate in Texas is over when the earth cooled.

          4.2 billion years ago or 4 billion years ago.?

          November 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
        • Clare

          You're showing a lack of understanding of what the word 'theory' means in a scientific context.

          "A theory is an explanation. The validity of a theory rests upon its ability to explain phenomena. Theories may be supported, rejected, or modified, based on new evidence. Gravitational theory, for example, attempts to explain the nature of gravity. Cell theory explains the workings of cells."

          November 27, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      The reason for the stimulus was to help the economy. If you remember the economy was tanking under the previous president (BUSH) Obama had two choices DEBT or DEPRESSION. Check history and you'll see that depression wasn't a good option.

      Saving GM, Chrysler and Ford accommplished several things. Saved iconic american manufacturing companies and jobs. If those companies had closed. Michigan and Detroits tax base would have been destroyed. The laid off workers would have relied on unemployment and public assistance (More tax dollars).

      You and I have blogged about the debt. The yearly debt has gone down. You can't say the sequestor hasn't brought the debt down.

      The reason for the shutdown is becuase of the republicans. You'll whine about Obama "not talking" But that is his choice. Obviously not talking worked because Boehner caved in.

      There are plenty of gov't programs that work. That is why republicans tried to open certain programs. If all govt programs are a disaster why did the repubs cave in and open the gov't?

      November 25, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  5. hugges

    i lived in the south and i do not know where the writer came up with this crap of horse crap. Christians r not PRETENDING to act like anything. a lot help poor people the government noses to large with AH who do not care what happens to the people. they think they r above us, they make there own rules, i did not see one off them give up there pay and work for free. the government was not set to have them make it there life's work and get out of it what they get. the longer the stay the more they get rules that they make to help them not us. seance jfk died our government has went down hill with all the AH we put there all have not been for the people but this one has been the worst of them all. it is not his skin color at all, he has lied to us over and over and none of r government has done nothing. BO wants it his way and if does not get it throws a fit like one of my grand kids, so do the house and the senate. my grand kids could run it BETTER than who is in there now!!!!!!!!

    November 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Wah Wah Wah. Sounds like a bitter Mutt Romney voter. So I guess Bush was telling the truth about the WMD's in iraq. It only cost us 5,000 soldiers, over 25,000 injured and a trillion dollars. I bet you still voted republican.

      November 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  6. congaman59

    The Christians of this nation were among the first organizations to build and operate hospitals. The reason most Christian organizations have gotten out of the health business is the GOVERNMENT interference in the Churches business! That's right it's the federal government that has caused most of the country to loose the free healthcare churches were providing our citizens! The government imposed regulations that put the church in a moral dilemma with abortion and birth control being the most glaring . So let's get it right CNN; Christians, in this county, have made valiant efforts to take care of the ill for as long as there has been a county, and for a long time before that! Until the liberal interlopers in Washington intruded on their rights to treat people as their faith dictated.

    November 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  7. Wade Johnson

    What a load of crap! About 75% of all homeless shelters and free food programs are run by church affiliated organizations WITHOUT government assistance. The percentage of dollars contributed and put directly to work is so far beyond tax dollars spent it is laughable. The federal government's handout system has contributed mightily to creating aid dependent people. Trying to blame this on churches is a ridiculous effort to distract from the real problems with centralized, socialist planning. Ignorance rules.

    November 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Maybe, but if the churches were really taking care of the poor and less desirable among us, would anyone even notice a need at all? Why does the government even know that the problem exists? Why does the government have to do so much when it's the job of the bride of Christ?

      November 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • Manfred

        The obvious is what you missed...you will a look ways have the poor with you. Those are the words of the Savior.

        November 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • igaftr

      Actually it is 1/3 of programs are funded soley by religious groups, not 75%.
      . The rest are subsidized or have money from MANY places.

      November 24, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  8. Mark Adams

    Refer to Mk 14:7 or Mt 26:11

    November 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  9. GaryO

    Obviously Hate trumps Love in the Bible Belt. Sure, they PRETEND to be Christians, sensitive to the needs of the poor, but in reality they are hate filled and hard-hearted . . . more then willing to sacrifice the health of 5 million poor but hard working Americans if that can somehow harm Obama and the Democrats, the targets of their hate.

    Hate trumps Love in the Bible Belt. No doubt about it.

    These Pretend Christians obviously take their marching orders from Satan.

    November 23, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      I need my knee replaced. I am a poor hardworking guy and can't afford the surgery. Thanks for offering to pay my bill.

      November 23, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • Dan

      "Hate" is that emotion that leads one to advocate for poor people and others in need to be subjected to the tender mercies of the government, from which there is no escape and from whose decrees there is no recourse.

      It's a fascinating development that ObamaCare advocates have decided that Christians are the problem. I'm not in the bible belt, but I do know personally that my smallish northern church, one of several in town, has done more to alleviate local poverty than all levels of government put together in our area. I suspect the other churches have done a similar amount.

      Look...just accept it. There are a LOT of us that don't believe government is the answer to social ills and don't want anything to do with smarmy politicians telling us what's good and what's not. We look to our faith leaders for that. Are some of them not all that great? No, they're not all great. But some of them are, and a huge majority of them are good, well-meaning people. And if they truly are bad people, they won't keep a congregation long.

      Now compare and contrast that fact and track record against that of politics and politicians. There are nasty, thieving idiots in Washington that have managed to keep their place for decades while destroying lives and livelihoods at every turn. Who would you rather cast your lot with? I know my answer. Kill ObamaCare and get the government out of social issues entirely, and the country and world will improve markedly.

      November 24, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  10. GaryO

    Obviously hate trumps love in most of the Bible Belt.

    Sure, they PRETEND to be kind, righteous Christians, but in reality, they are hate filled and hard-hearted . . . willing to sacrifice the health of 5 million poor but hard working citizens, if doing so might somehow harm Obama and the Democrats, the focus of their hate.

    Hate trumps Love in the Bible Belt. No doubt about it.

    Those pretend Christians obviously take their marching orders from Satan.

    November 23, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • GaryOh My!

      If the Affordable Care Act was about helping people and not controlling them it would be successful. Your attack of Christians speaks volumes about you and what is in your heart. What have you done to help people? Probably a big NOTHING.

      November 25, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  11. 1968billsfan

    So ObamaCare DOESN'T cover all the poor. Why did Obama and the democrats lie about this? Shouldn't it have covered this obvious and predictable combinaton?

    November 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Being a bills fan you should keep a low profile.

      November 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  12. UtahRed

    America is broke. We are in debt up to our eyeballs, and therefore, we can't afford Obamacare. Obamacare has traps and deceit written in it, that's why christians and states are against it. We can't afford private healthcare too. And why blame christians? There are not enough real christians in america to support all the poor. I'm sorry, but it's each man for himself from now on. I recommend getting your heart right with God because you are going to need him soon just to exist. Ask yourself, what did people do before health insurance came along? What did americans do before food stamps? We are all going to have to live differently. The era of "free stuff" from the government is over.

    November 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      If you don't want to help people fine. Just stop with the phony pro life crap you and republicans like to spew. If you want them here, then you have to help them. You want to play daddy, then you have to pay like daddy.

      November 25, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  13. Richard

    I say, the government wants separation of church and state, we should give it to them. Cant have it both ways.

    November 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  14. Reve888

    Why doesn't McDonald and his congregation have each member take about 5 to 10 thousand dollars out of his/her annual salary to donate to an insurance policy for as many poor as they can, instead of asking others to do it for them. I bet if it came out of their own pockets, they'd suddenly not be interested. Funny that they can point the finger at the government to force charity out of people in order to fix the problem when they are not doing anything to fix it themselves. I'd like them to put their money where their mouths are. When poor people get food stamps, others get mad because they see too many stamps going to people doing drugs, playing knockout games, not going to school and avoiding work. I don't know anyone who gets mad when people with legitimate need get food stamps. Perhaps we all like to help the needy, but we just have a different idea of what makes for a legitimate need. Many of us think that to be needy requires that one have a severe disability, like the needy mentioned in Bible times, that is, blindness, deafness and lameness. There are others who think that to be needy only requires that someone not want to work. He also forgot that non-poor also cannot get insurance because of pre-existing conditions. You don't have to be poor in order to not be able to get insurance. You don't need the government in order to give to the poor. And evidently, in this country, you don't need to be disabled in order to be classified as needy so that you can receive food stamps.

    November 23, 2013 at 3:35 am |
  15. TXGARNERS

    WORKING FATHER OF 4 IN TEXAS HOUSEHOLD INCOME 29000 HOUSEHOLD SIZE = 6 I APPLYED AT HEALTHCARE.GOV TO HAVE MY CHILDREN MOVED TO MEDICARE AGAINST MY WILL AND THEN THEY TOLD ME , WIFE AND 23 YR OLD SON TO FIND OUR OWN INSURANCE WITH NO SUBSUDIES. I HAVE COVERED MY FAMILY WITH HEALTH INSURANCE FROM WORK THE LAST 8 YEARS TILL IT WENT FROM 30 A WEEK 2 YEARS AGO TO AROUND 100 A WEEK FOR NEXT YEAR. I WOULD IMAGINE THAT ACA IS A COMPLETE FAILURE ALRDY AND DUE TO ME NOT HAVING INSURANCE AT ALL NOW BECAUSE OF ACA, I WILL PROCEDE TO THE EMERGANCY ROOM FOR ALL MY MEDICAL NEEDS INCLUDING EVERY BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICINE REFILL , IF I GET A SLIVER IN MY FINGER IM GOING TO DR E.R. THE E.R. IS NOW GOING TO BE MY FULL TIME DOCTOR DUE TO ACA . AT THIS LEVEL OF INCOME YOU CAN IMANGINE THAT CREDIT IS NOTHING AND I SAY NOTHING TO ME AT ALL. THANK YOU PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR AN AWFULL HEALTH CARE PROGRAM TO REPLACE A GOOD ONE I HAD AND CAN NO LONGER AFFORD THANKS TO YOU. AND ON A GOOD NOTE THANK GOD FOR WALMART AND THE 4.00 PRESCRIPTION PROGRAM-MORE COMPANYS SHOULD FOLLOW WALMARTS STEP IN WHAT I SEE AS THE ONLY COMPANY IN AMERICA WHO HAS DONE ANYTHING AT ALL TO LOWER( YES LETS SAY IT TOGATHER–L O W E R) COSTS IN THE HEALTH CARE FIELD WHILE INSURANCE , PHARMASUTICALS AND HOSPITALS HAVE GROSSLY EXPLOTIED OVER CHARGING AND MIS-USE OF GOVERMENT FUNDS WHICH ABSOLUTLY NOT ONE OF THE BLOOD-SUCKING CEO'S OR MANAGEMENT WILL BE MADE TO EXPLAIN THERE CRIMES

    AMERICA RICH= RICHER

    AMERICA MIDDLE CLASS = POOR NOW

    AMERICA POOR= MORE POOR NOW

    LOOKS LIKE THE RICH ARE THE ONLY ONES MAKING OUT ON THIS WHOLE THING AND EVERYONE ELSE IS LOOSING SURELY WE CAN DO BETTER THEN THIS AMERICA

    November 22, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Tracy

      TXGARNERS: I hope that more folks like you who have negatively impacted by "NO-bamacare" will speak up and more and more people who've supported this misguided program will see the light. It is not working. It is hurting many of he people that it was intended to help. PULL THE DAMN PLUG NOW.

      November 24, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @TXGARNERS.......You're making 29,000 a year and got six kids? part of the ACA is access to birth control at no additional cost. Please use it. I'm sure when insurance cost you $30.00 bucks a week, you had less kids. More kids equal more costs. Kids aren't free for anybody. Texas is a state that isn't expanding the medicaid option so I don't know how your kids were "forced" against your will to go on medicaid.

      November 25, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
      • Tracy

        But Ken: Doesn't TXGARNERS fit the profile of the folks Obamacare is trying to help? Low income. Frequently, higher number of dependents. I don't want to engage in guesswork here, but I'd say that if you surveyed the households of the uninsured who cannot currently afford health insurance, that a disproportionate number of them fit profiles that are similar to his - maybe to not that extreme. Your suggestion to him to use birth control, while I'm guessing is somewhat facetious is one thing I agree with you about. The problem is that many who are in that income category, because of culture, tradition, or lack of education simply have a higher number of dependents.

        November 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Tracy........I'm not so sure about TXGARNERS truth in what he is writing. The man is from Texas, a southern state that's constantly howling about leaving the union, a state with Rick "oops" Perrry as it's governor. A state with the highest amount of uninsured people and a state that doesn't wan't to expand medicaid to help poor people. So his post might be factually challenged.

          November 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
        • Tracy

          LOL.

          November 25, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  16. Wildfawn

    There's a difference between treating the symptoms and treating the cause. Hospitals, charities, etc., treat the symptoms. They can't treat the causes of poverty and lack of health insurance. They can't treat the economic injustice and inequality of our system. Americans are very charitable and giving, no doubt about it. But they've had 200+ years to demonstrate that they can't give enough to keep everyone who needs medical care, cared for. This is one of those cases where the causes are beyond the ability of throwing money at the symptoms to fix.

    November 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tracy

      You raise a very good, enlightening point. You are right. When I have said in previous posts about how churches are out there actually directly helping the the hungry and sick, it actually would be nice to hit at the actual causes of people getting into the at condition.

      A way for people universally get adequate affiliate healthcare would be a solution. However, handing the responsibility to government is however, 100% not the solution. I hear many arguments on the intent and why theoretically why Obamacare should work. But ultimately, our already bloated inefficient government which couldn't even prevent millions of dollars of cell phones to people who didn't qualify (a simple program to run compared with ACA), which has Navigators telling Obamacare applicants to commit fraud, which has wasted billion on bankrupt Green Energy progams like Green Energy, which has bestowed on your grandchildren and mine a deficit of $17 trillion and...well you get the picture. I don't even need to complete the sentence. I can't. It would go on for pages.

      November 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • Tracy

        I meant, "which has wasted billion on bankrupt Green Energy progams like Solyndra.."

        November 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  17. Tara

    Joel Osteen and TD Jakes do not represent Christianity any more than Jerry Springer represents journalism. Having that said, OF COURSE they declined to comment. Jesus never advocated social change from the top down. Never. Keep your opinions, but don't try to paint a cross on them.

    November 22, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • John BlakeCNN

      if Jesus was not about social change why did the Romans execute him as a political revolutionary?

      November 22, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Jim In NorCal

    Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, et al are not preachers. They are snake-oil salesmen who take advantage of the fear of God to make millions. They are the worst hypocrites and sinners of all.

    November 21, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
  19. Thom

    FYI: No matter how you look at the ACA, it's better than what we had and where we were going. Without a law that gives everyone insurance or Medicaid......the rest of us will pay the $150B a year and higher each year, for uninsured people to go to ER's and have babies.... the ACA was also a way to control healthcare fraud and illegals from getting free care....it's not perfect, but it's a start........ and I think you would agree, that paying a small part of their healthcare costs beats the hell out of paying ALL OF IT for them. If the ACA goes down, the left will have a good excuse......and Hillary will run on it. Single payer would have worked and is the ONLY other option if they don't work together to fix the ACA,. Single Payer was her Baby........it was half the cost too.....but the GOP fought it and that will end up a big mistake for them.

    November 20, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Reve888

      The problem is that when you give it to the government first, the government will use it for something else, and then we'll pay for it in taxes again anyway. The government is a bottomless pit where money never gets out to anyone. I don't think that it will be cheaper for Obamacare than for E.R. visits. I think it will cost twice as much, because the government will get the money up front, lose it, and then ask for it again. The government isn't going to lower our taxes just because we are now paying three times as much insurance as we were before.

      November 23, 2013 at 3:44 am |
  20. Pete

    You can't legislate charity. You can try but it just won't work. Never has. Never will. Americans are the most charitable people in the world. If the government keeps taking, there won't be anything left to give.

    November 20, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      No one is legislating charity. So what is your point?

      November 20, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
      • Chachibobo

        Poor reading comprehension much?

        November 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          I understand perfectly loco bobo.

          November 20, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
      • Paul

        Ken,
        Didn't you say you were in favor of Obamacare because you wanted to help people? Wouldn't that be legislating charity? Is forced charity really charity?

        November 22, 2013 at 12:35 am |
        • Ken Margo

          Why do you think the ACA is charity? People are required to BUY it. How is BUYING something charity? Giving people subsidies to assist them to buy it is no different than the oil companies getting a subsidy. I don't hear you complaining about that.

          November 25, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Ben

      Education use to be totally private. If you wanted your children to go to a school you had to pay for it out of pocket. The result was rampant illiteracy. It became apparent that the State suffered from this so taxes were levied to provide all children basic education. How is providing basic health care any less a benefit to the State than providing basic education?

      November 21, 2013 at 12:57 am |
      • Reve888

        What, don't we have rampant illiteracy now? Many of the kids I know that go to government schools are practically illiterate compare to 50 years ago. So that program didn't work so well in the long run.

        November 23, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • SlackerSlayer

      Yes Pete, we are charitable and those charity ***businesses*** that rarely spend 20% on the cause they claim to, should be taxed a small ten percent like they demand their flock does, and the IRS will have such a sur[plus we can stop paying income/wages taxes. Think on that one. It was all compiled by an economist in the 80's.

      November 21, 2013 at 7:18 am |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Pete you say you can't legislate charity. I think a quick glance at U.S. history says you can. Ever heard of
      Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, child labor laws - I could go on – but there are many popular programs that in fact are based on charitable goals such as making sure old people don't starve to death, children aren't working coal mines and poor people get health care.

      November 21, 2013 at 2:43 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.