home
RSS
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. dalecc

    yeah all this is talk talk talk.....no one care's for the poor...never have never will....when u got a'dollar fifty in your pocket....head to the church for help...if they send you away, then u have your answer...

    January 29, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
    • nym

      I've gotten furniture and food from churches before

      January 31, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
  2. PJ

    Fox news has been reporting on this for months. I've also seen it on our local news talking about how bad Cover California is.

    January 22, 2014 at 5:21 pm |
  3. IndyMike

    Joel Osteen, his wife and his prosperity gospel are all frauds. His preaching and teaching are not designed to lead people to Christ, they are designed to cultivate a culture of lies and line his pockets. Look how he and his wife live. If your pastor lives like Joel Osteen, you need to look for a new spritual leader and church

    January 22, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • Austin

      how can you be sure. I don't follow him, but i know people who listen to his sermons and they like him. I cant be sure.

      if you look at Abraham and king David, they didn't care that they were rich. Solomon.

      I mean, does God not bless people? Is money an automatic curse?

      January 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm |
      • skarphace

        If you got rich off donations that people gave to your church, then I would say that you are most definitely not following the teachings of Jesus.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
        • Austin

          which teachings say that being rich is condemnable? they do say that riches were a reason for a fool not to follow Jesus but the same teaching did not say that all people had to get rid or deny riches. any comments?

          are you a believer?

          January 22, 2014 at 5:01 pm |
      • Jazz

        Tell you what, look at how the new pope is living his life and you might get your answer. Just saying. I'm not religious by any means, but that is one man I am proud to have in my species.

        January 31, 2014 at 4:43 am |
    • Emmett Earl

      Joel Osteen isn't a fraud he just doesn't speak the "whole" truth. Theology and divinity schools teach the bible. The training is supposed to impart "biblical teaching" as its main focus as a pastor or minister or preacher whatever you want to call it. J. Osteen does not use the bible on his TV program. I find that kind of suspect. Not putting the bible on TV during the main part of the church service is sort of like washing dishes using old cooking oil. He says what he wants and tries to relate it back to the bible in a half-ass way. He's a good motivational speaker but bible preacher he is not.

      January 29, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
  4. myla

    There is a gap in coverage for Healthcare. This is true and truely unfortunate that those states have made a choice to put their citizens in that position. I believe the point of the article is to highlight the influence that these religious leaders have on the people, and in turn the government, but choose not to voice their concerns on the health of those people, one way or the other. It is a major concern to many of their congregation, regardless of political beliefs, and it is logical that they would seek guidance from their religious leaders.
    Even if they weren't in favor of the Affordable Healthcare Act (which btw I am very grateful for since I would be either denied healthcare or unable to afford it due to preexisting conditions and the plan I have gotten through Obamacare is half the cost of my employer sponsored health plan with better benefits), I would love to hear how these leaders of their communities offer solutions to those problems. If their respective churches are offering healthcare options to their congregation, that would be in line with their teachings, that is a solution that could be offered. If that is not a reasonable option to the problem, what is the solution they offer?

    January 20, 2014 at 3:11 pm |
    • mcwreiole

      Come on Folks, This is more propaganda from the Obama snake oil salesmen. At a certain level of income millions of people will not be able to afford the private insurers policies of obamacare, however, if ANY person has a lower income than they qualify for Medicaid and will not have to pay a dime for it. That is exactly why the whole program is going to break the fragile economy of this country because only the people getting health insurance for free are signing up and there is no one in program to pay for it. Obamacare gives the poor free access to health insurance but no guarantee of access to HEALTHCARE. That is the exposed huge lie of obamacare.

      January 22, 2014 at 4:53 pm |
  5. Liz

    The stipulations involved in the ACA guaranteed that the truly poor & the poorer states would not be able to participate from it's beginning.So the problems that were harming the system are not changed at all.The same people will be using the ER as their doctor's office-not getting follow up care or not paying their bills.Moreover the forced insurance coverage is an expense that will keep those that may have been able to pay for occasional services in payments etc. from seeking them(working self employed just above poverty line).Nothing about this Act made Healthcare more "affordable". It only forced citizens to become Insurance consumers.Might I suggest that the religious organizations in the states not participating lose their tax exemptions?This may help them find their way in providing healthcare to those that need it the most.

    January 18, 2014 at 8:39 am |
    • skarphace

      This article is not talking about the "truly poor", as they already qualify for Medicaid. This article is talking about the "working poor", who make too much income to qualify for Medicaid but don't make enough money to pay for health insurance. The ACA was meant to expand Medicaid in order to include these hardworking, deserving Americans, but many politicians (you can guess from what party), in an effort to undermine the ACA, have refused to expand Medicaid in their states. This results in a coverage gap, and is what this article is about. Understand?

      January 22, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
  6. IG Inspector (@TheIGofSA)

    How much did POTUS pay for this commercial

    January 16, 2014 at 11:00 pm |
    • Galileo Galileo

      It seems that the chruch is griping about an issue that they, in fact, caused by supporting the Republican platform
      an nutty people like Michelle Bachmann who us the name of Jesus as a political tool and shouts louder than anyone
      to 'Repeal Obamacare'. It's pretty obvious that she, the Republican Party and the, Tea party are totally against the
      needy getting health care. It's time to wake up and kick the Republicans out of the house. Then health care will finally
      come to those who need it.

      January 22, 2014 at 4:13 pm |
      • Tracy Marshall

        Uh, Obamacare passed. It has been implemented. What does the existence of opposition have to do with the fact that is failing before our very eyes? No one is sabotaging it. How does Republicans getting out the way fix website glitches, part-time workers losing their heathcare and all the other insanity that is taken place since October. You are trying to find scapegoat for the disaster that ACA is because of the incompetence of those who created it. If you're wondering, I'm not one of these morons that hates everything Democrat as there are idiots on both sides.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:31 pm |
        • skarphace

          Did you even read the article? The article explains how certain politicians have purposely undermined the ACA by refusing to expand Medicaid in their states, thereby creating the coverage gap that is leaving 5 million "working-poor" Americans without health coverage. If you want more details, read the friggin' article.

          January 22, 2014 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Keith

    You dont' think those mega church pastors really care about people do you?

    January 14, 2014 at 4:05 pm |
    • jarhead333

      What "mega church" pastors are you talking about. My favorite is the interview where Rick Warren stopped the reporter on a dime when he told her that he paid back 14 years of pastoring and lives only off of the money from one book he authored.

      January 18, 2014 at 1:18 am |
      • skarphace

        Yeah. If you made millions from a book, but thousands off pastoring, then what would you prefer to "live" on? All of these pastors from mega-churches sell books and other paraphernalia that makes them rich. Their salaries are minute in comparison.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm |
  8. IndyMike

    Joel Osteen is a fraud and his Prosperity Gospel is a lie.

    January 13, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
    • Thomas Weaver

      Mike, Mike..you have the wrong name in your accusation... Think about it, who promised you hope and change, who promised you, if you like your doctor – you can keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan – you can keep your health care plan; that he would investigate and bring to justice those very bad actors that killed our ambassador and three others in Benghazi....Come on man, stick with facts and not opinions...

      January 13, 2014 at 7:25 pm |
      • TIME TRAVELER

        Hey T-Weave this is an opinion blog ta-da

        January 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm |
      • hellsyeahs

        Pot meet kettle.

        January 15, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
      • skarphace

        I was able to keep my health plan, and the premium only increased by $2 per month.

        January 22, 2014 at 4:45 pm |
  9. BC

    I'm curious sir, what are YOU personally doing to help the poor? Oh, Yeah I know..paying taxes so the Government can deal with them–Because you have an issue with Pastors NOT speaking up you think it okay to disparage them..

    Why not do some REAL investigative reporting and see what their CHURCHES ARE doing to help feed, cloth and house the poor and assist them in paying for some of their basic needs–instead of what they are not speaking up about.

    I know churches who will pay a light bill and a water bill so that a family CAN PAY their medical bills–I also know people within churches who as a group within a Sunday School Class or Small group that "adopts' a family to help pay for needed medications and medical bills–it's the Church as individual members who help them.

    It's the Pastors responsibility to PREACH THE GOSPEL–The Good News of Salvation in Christ ALONE..and it's the INDIVIDUAL Members within the Congregation to HELP OTHERS IN NEED...

    Sir, because you are NOT A Born Again Believer you have no clue as to the call of Christ ON HIS BODY and what WE DO AS MEMBERS of Christ's body to assist others. Most do it behind the scenes, not for the praises of men. Maybe IF YOU ACTUALLY WENT TO A BIBLE BELIEVING CHURCH YOU and actually got involved you would see what The CHURCH IS DOING!!

    January 12, 2014 at 10:15 am |
    • rich

      Amen BC that waas perfectly put. It amazes me how people always point the finger at someone or something else so they don't have to look at themselves. I guess taking that blank out of the eye would help. lol

      January 12, 2014 at 2:17 pm |
    • THERE IS NO GOD

      yeah, I got involed with the church and the pastor spoke of all that God crap...then fondled me and my sister
      church, religion, all that stuff is just a farce to get your money

      January 14, 2014 at 1:58 pm |
  10. richard

    I apologize if you thought I snubbed my nose at science. I don't at all. I love science, how the human body works, stars in the sky etc. In fact it confirms to me that there was a creator to have made everything so perfect for us. Billions and Billions of stars for us to enjoy and view. Every see maps of the human brain with its electrical impulses so designed that it reacts, stores, and processes information. The skeletal system is even more impressive. My question is why is it so hard for you to believe there is a God. I'm not trying to change you nor can you change me. Believe me when you take your last breathe you will not be standing before me when you die. that is something we all have in common.

    January 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Richard..so looking at the human body is proof of god? Could your god..have "designed" lifeforms to exist with out having to eat thereby eliminating the untold misery of thousands, if not millions, starving to death. The body is far from perfect and if this is the result of a designer then it is not that smart.

      January 19, 2014 at 7:51 am |
  11. Gyna

    Truth! I don't need a silly book to tell me that I shouldn't murder people, or cheat on my spouse, or steal other people's belongings. Amazing to think that many so-called Christians would be uncontrollable heathens if they didn't have a silly book to tell them how to behave.

    January 9, 2014 at 11:35 pm |
    • richard

      it is obivious that you have never read. I'll bet Alice in Wonderland is a better book to believe in. you believe that we were created from a big band, the air we breathe is just by chance that it supports life. Did you know, fact, if the world was 2 inches in any direction in space, there would be no us... but thats all a chance. I would rather believe their is a creator, if their is then their is a design. You are that design.

      January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm |
      • In Santa we trust

        While there is what is known as the "Goldilocks zone", it is more than a few inches either way., and is more than distance from the sun. Recent studies show 1000s of exoplanets in our galaxy alone that appear to have the right conditions. Why do you think that a god created billions of galaxies each with billions of stars for the sole purpose of putting its chosen people in a very small area on one planet.

        January 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm |
        • richard

          I would much rather you blame Global Warming, for the Arctic blast we just had. you love science and believe it whole heartedly. hey thats your choice, I choose to believe that we are a part of a much larger picture, not by chance, or fluke. I have seen too much death and so many miracles in my life to know their is a God. we are here for such a short time compared to eternity. your right you don't need a book to keep you from killing someone or stealing. But if your wrong, well thats a chance your willing to take.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm |
        • Hypatia

          Richard, it is hard to comprehend the concept of hundreds of billions of galaxies that have hundreds of billions of stars each. These are scales we don't ever encounter in our lives. You snub your nose at scientific pursuit, but seeing how everything is connected through physics is the most spiritual experience.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm |
        • skarphace

          Richard: "I would much rather you blame Global Warming, for the Arctic blast we just had."

          If you do not understand that extreme weather patterns such as the cold weather patterns that are troubling most of our country actually support the theory of global warming, then you clearly do not understand the theory. Maybe some research is in order? Try science instead of Fox News, and maybe you will be better informed about reality.

          January 22, 2014 at 4:50 pm |
  12. sl1mt1m

    Reblogged this on sl1mt1m's Blog and commented:
    Class assignment, due Friday!

    January 8, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
  13. tkog_4_life

    No comment from so many of our so called church leaders. Just sums it all up, our so called leaders are leaderless, spineless, lacking courage and with nothing to say on the issues that face this generation ..... no wonder people don't get the relevance of 'church' for their lives ..... i say, those who see the need and call to help anyone poor should act directly to help that person if possible .... neither the church or govt is 'ordained' to help the poor; real people help other people, and certainly if the church can or should help the poor then why not govt? What is so holy about helping the poor that it should be left to just church? Sadly as Xtians too many of us are too hypocritical and caught up in the world and money to make a difference.

    January 8, 2014 at 7:51 pm |
  14. Scholar

    Osteen is far more interested in his net worth than the worth of his flock when he won't speak out for those who are hit with the political fall-out. He is among those condemned by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:6, those who make much of their piety in public but who fail miserably to live the life as blessed by Jesus, to minister to the poorest.
    Joel Osteen has his reward now. He will fail to achieve it in Heaven. The gates will be shut to him and to all those who fail to honor Jesus' words.

    January 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
  15. Holly in CA

    I know several families caught in the "coverage gap". They used to have inexpensive insurance but it was ripped away from them and now their costs have tripled. Obviously they can't afford it so they'll go without. The fault is not with states who won't put their already strained finances at risk by expanding medical, but with ACA which demands that their original insurance plans be abolished.

    January 8, 2014 at 10:23 am |
    • John Blake

      the "inexpensive insurance" ripped away from them may have been substandard insurance that doesn't meet the minimal coverage requirements of the health care law. From what I've read and heard, a lot of these plans were in name only- as soon as someone got sick they faced huge costs when they discovered they were really covered like they thought. It's a fact – no one disputes this, even ACA opponents can't dispute it – that there are at least 5 million Americans, many of them who are working poor, who won't get health insurance because these governors and state legislators said no to the ACA expansion – which pays 100 percent of the costs for three years and no less than 90 percent of the cost thereafter.

      January 8, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
      • shawn

        Real person, real dollars. Make 29k per year, 45, cannot get subsidies, silver plan $177/month with 17k deduct. Had insurance, used it, had drug coverage, used it. Have pre existing condition, was covered. Previous was $200/month with $1,500 deduct.

        January 8, 2014 at 6:39 pm |
        • Tracy Marshall

          We hear a lot from the pro-ACA camp about hypothetically, what it supposed to do. Then we hear from real people who've been impacted, such as Shawn below, who, had real insurance that was working for them ripped out of their hands by ACA.

          If this an isolated cased, those who are in favor of ACA should be able to unearth story's from people are are glad that they now have access to better coverage, lower deductables, their choice of doctors, and coverage for their pre-existing conditions.

          Every since Sally Kohn published her piece about how "journalists" are scouring the land to find hordes of people who've benefited from ACA (I'm sure there are many who ecstatic at being insured for the first time)...including people who are not poor but self employed with "sub standard coverage," who are glad the're getting a better deal with ACA.

          Let's hear those stories. We're waiting. In the meantime...Thank you Shawn for telling your story:

          "Real person, real dollars. Make 29k per year, 45, cannot get subsidies, silver plan $177/month with 17k deduct. Had insurance, used it, had drug coverage, used it. Have pre existing condition, was covered. Previous was $200/month with $1,500 deduct."

          January 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm |
        • richard

          you probably won't find anyone to support you argument.. No one will benefit from ACA. The poor or substandard as you call it won' be able to afford the monthly payments. So that leaves them to square one, Go to the ER and get free coverage. Even if they don't get coverage, obama insurance, they will get fined $95 the first year, that beats $1200, if there rate was @100 per month and lets not forget the out of pocket deductible which they will never reach unless its catastrophic illness, which for most americans its not. But lets not leave out illegals, hell they don't have to pay anyway and it free. but if you decide to become an american citizen, then get the checkbook out cause it will cost you. OMG ... and who foots this bill for obama care you and I, thats right ladies and gents, hard working people who will be taxed every way possible even on the toilet paper to wipe your bottom, you will be taxed thanks to the Supreme Court. Chalk one up for obama, he knows how to screw the middle class, upper class and the poor class, guess its all that flying to Hawaii for vacation that clouded his judgement.

          January 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm |
        • Tracy Marshall

          Richard, I agree with you.

          January 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm |
        • richard

          thank you tracy

          January 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm |
  16. shawbrooke

    For ages people who advocated the idea that churches should not get political spoke unopposed. The left – that would be Democrats – were most in favor of the idea that churches should avoid politics.

    So now when the left tries to tell people that churches who do not support their position (how self serving!) are somehow letting people down, there has NEVER, ever been a better reason to use the word hypocrite. That would be the Democratic party and the left that supports them.

    January 7, 2014 at 9:13 pm |
  17. Shark

    "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.”

    Im sorry but thats a really bad justification. If you are a leader in a state with a lot of poor people, how can you possibly justify not helping them. You are in position of power, dont even bother calling yourself a christian if you are not using that power to help those in need.

    January 7, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
  18. Willis Fitnurbut

    WWJD? Besides being a cult leader that created one of the most sinister forms of religion on the planet, Jesus really did try to help people. It doesn't take a whole list of commandments to know not to be a dick. I don't believe in god, but Jesus could teach you right wing religious nuts a thing or two about sharing the wealth. Champion of the poor, helper of the weak and savior of the unwanted, like it or not, Jesus would have been all about Obamacare and making things fair for those less fortunate than you. Jump off your soap box, pick up your bible, give it a good reading and help EVERYONE just like it says to do!!!

    January 7, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
  19. Tony S

    If his church feels so inclined to comment on the healthcare of the poor, why doesn't the church donate their money to the poor's healthcare? Oh, right...God wants it. Churches are scams. I believe in God, but not church.

    January 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm |
    • Pinewalker

      Maybe you ought to try reality before you spew at the mouth. I have been on several church Finance Committee Boards in my life and the first biggest expense is always facility costs and the second is always support tot he poor and disadvantaged. Usually staff and their benefits are typically several line items down the list from the top. Most pastors I have been on oversight Boards over have made the same as the church secretary. Even these big name pastors are usually not making any money at all from their congregations, it usually comes from their sales of books and other related materials they sell. Granted an argument could be made that a large percentage of that should be going back to their congregations rather than their own personal finances.

      January 8, 2014 at 9:11 am |
      • mbh

        Glad you provided some reason to this conversation. I belong to a large church in N. CA, and we have literally dozens of community and international ministries. There are millions of church attending Americans who contribute to the needs of those who are needy and hurting on a regular basis – wonder if Tony S can say the same and if he does that's great. However, statistics would say otherwise. Remember Tony S, the church is its members not the building or denomination.

        January 8, 2014 at 11:06 am |
  20. Solomon Walker

    Doesn't matter – some tried to sign up and couldn't because the site was down.

    I guess that just crushes your claim, doesn't it.

    Don't get me wrong – I know most ministers don't give a damn about the homeless that they rarely preach about in this nation – but if I must choose the lesser of two evils – there you are.

    January 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.