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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. hotchow

    Check this out. Charities took in over 300 billion last year.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=42

    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  2. coloradom

    What do individuals without health insurance do now? They go get healthcare but don't pay for it. The only difference between having health insurance and not is how the bill is getting paid.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  3. LogicInStyle

    What about the people in states that did implement Obamacare? I live in one such state. But I still can't afford health insurance. My only option will be to opt for the tax penalty, which will be far less than having to buy insurance. If I have to put out the $150 a month for insurance, I won't have enough money to feed myself.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  4. The Deceiver Novel

    It's weird to attack people who give the most charitable and suggest that they are actually putting down the downtrodden. Look at shelters, food banks, and other charitable community outlets, and you'll find a church at the figurehead of it.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • LogicInStyle

      On the other hand, such "charities" are usually using their "charitable" works to proselytize, which tends to be the primary interest. I've seen people who have been refused help because they refused to participate in religious services and practices that weren't consistent with their own beliefs.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Terry

      And while that is admirable, are they going to provide medical care as well? Care for cancer? Emergency appendectomies? You get my drift. Please don't suggest the ER. That costs all of us needlessly.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  5. WThompson

    So its OK for them to voice their opinions when it comes to women's reproductive rights and get politically involved to change the ACA to not cover birth control but now they say they can't get involved in the law because it is political to get the poor covered and get their states to accept federal funds. It sure seems like they have no problem getting political when it suits them. Apparently the poor people aren't important enough for them to address but women getting pregnant is....Where is the logic in that?

    November 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      The church has always been much more concerned about what people do with their own body parts in their own bedrooms than the poor, the suffering, and the dying among us. There's no surprise, here.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Any

      You see this is why things aren't going to change. Please read that article again. A preacher is talking about Obama care to his members which is his first amendment right not covering poor in his state and other states Because they refuse honor it. That's all he is doing. CNN is making it political cause they are getting desperate

      November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • jon

      "Guy Smiley" Osteen should be ashamed. I am sure he is not because HE IS A FRAUD making millions a year.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • henry

      the same could be said about the other side

      November 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  6. BB

    Pastors/Congregations in the South that don't stand up for the poor aren't doing it because they don't give a flying flip about the poor, because they aren't real Christian churches.....just exclusive social clubs.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  7. charluckles

    Because their primary job is to make their parishioners feel good about ignoring the teachings of the man they all claim to follow. How else do you drive your $40,000.00 car past those homeless people on the street and show up to church in a $1000.00 suit to hear about how the meek will inherit the Earth. Its all about making people feel good about themselves even in the face of their own greed and selfishness.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
  8. QS

    “Sometimes pastors have to tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

    Sometimes? This is the very epitome of religion !

    November 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • A Catholic

      The author of this piece is trying to call out the Christian Pastors for what they feel is not doing enough for the poor in their communities. We know from the article that many, that the author calls out, do, do things for the poor in their communities. The question though isn't as much about "religion" as you state, but about, to what extent those pastors are willing to go to teach the truth to their congregations. Though Jesus, did not get "political", his teachings though personal, changed the political atmosphere, because it teaches a humbleness and giving that is selfless, a change in heart and action. There is nothing wrong with asking your congregation to consider writing their state leaders and pleading that they make changes to give aid and health coverage or care to those most vulnerable in their communities. Many are actually scared to try, it is more about saving face and not rocking the boat. Have we rocked the boat in our community and put ourselves out on a limb for the poor? It may not be as easy as giving someone our pocket change. It is hard to leap and very easy to talk, religion or not.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  9. John Shleton

    Talking about "Pastors in the Bible Belt" is an effective distraction from law-makers...those who actually make the laws.
    But it works...Look how so many people commenting are focused on pastors after this article.

    Pastors will never win in this situation. If they comment, they are mixing state and religion. If they don't, they are accused of not caring. So its smart of them to take a chosen position concerning making comments (as is their right) and let the detractors do their thing.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  10. FourleafTayback

    Health care is important....and everyone has it. Obamacare is about Health Insurance WELFARE....that's all. These bible belt pastors....know the difference between liberal lies and facts.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Terry

      Bull. "Everybody has it." Bull. You clearly do not know what you're talking about, you're just parroting Fox Noise.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  11. Bill

    God has been known to encourage "dependency" too.....

    November 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  12. Jackson Squire

    This is obvious. Bible Belt pastors are con artists. Take a leisurely Sunday drive through any town in the Bible Belt. You'll see a church nearly on every street corner. It's a business. These pastors make their incomes off the backs of their congregations. The pastor brainwashes them with hate speech and takes their money in the collection plates every day of service. They could care less about the people in their communities. Successful pastors live in huge mansions while their congregations live in squalor.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
  13. MikeOnABike

    Of course, the entire premise of this article is a lie. No state can refuse Obamacare. It is Federal Law, and states cannot decide which Federal Laws they want to follow.

    What the article should say is that, "poor cannot buy insurance because the Federal Government can't get a website done right for $600 million."

    November 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Perhaps you need to explain that to the states who have legalized marijuana?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
      • zak

        Now that's a silly thing to say. All the states that have legalized marijuana have said is that they will no longer have a state law that regulates use or possession of marijuana. Its actually more similar to the states who chose to have the federal government set up their exchanges.

        November 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jackson Squire

      I'm sorry to burst your bubble here, but there's something called the 10th Amendment that establishes states' rights. In the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act they struck down the Medicaid expansion mandate because of the 10th Amendment. This is only the first part of why there's a coverage gap. There's the federal exchange, of course, but when they're encouraged by their politicians, their churches, and their news stations into not even attempting to sign up they're going to have a coverage gap.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • WThompson

      To be clear they are not refusing ACA (Obamacare) they are refusing Federal Funds to expand the Medicare coverage that would fill the gap. Why would they not accept the free money until 2015, perhaps you can address that issue.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Linda B

      What I am seeing, is that states such as Kentucky that set up their own system, are meeting the needs of the uninsured and poor people in their state. I think the original expectation of the authors of the Affordable Care Act were that more states would set up their own systems.
      I think it is a terrible shame that many states ignored the Affordable Care Act, and are ignoring the needs of their citizens.
      The Affordable Care Act would work better if each state had their own website (as some do), instead of so many people trying to get onto one website at once.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • beaches

      So you're saying if the website worked perfectly they would get care? Wrong. Try to read the article again, most of the words are small. Even a conservative should be able to understand them

      November 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Hugo

      You are quite mistaken. The Supreme Court ruled that the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act is *optional* for the states. See http://www.cbpp.org/files/status-of-the-ACA-medicaid-expansion-after-supreme-court-ruling.pdf

      November 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Poor Jim-Bob

    When I don't feel good I just go down to the emergency ward and wait around till they get around to looking at me and give me some medicine stuff and I always thank them and praise the Lord. I pray a lot just like Janice does for a Mercedes Benz, one just like the pastor has, nice convertible. Think I am doing it wrong...Zombie my Zombie send me money for even an old beat up old Mercedes Benz, I will worship you forever. I know you had a real bad weekend and suffered for us and all, but couldn't you pass me a little bling, why should the preachers get it all. I am just a poor boy...Apostle Paul Simon.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • Pinewalker

      We are probably the only group of people that you can verbally abuse and bully in such a manner and it is perfectly socially acceptable and even encouraged. Think of slandering any other group in the same manner you just did and what the outrage would be?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I guess somebody is holding a gun to your head to make you read this blog? At least nobody around here is forcing you to endure unbearable, fiery torment forever and ever. What kind of azzhole dovchebag would consider that "righteous?"

        November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Poor Jim-Bob

        Pine are usually not so sensitive, how about Zeus my Zeus, feel better now?

        November 8, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  15. krankenstein111

    Let me get this right......... The Bible belt states refused to alter their medicaid policies in order to make a stand against Obama care even though it is a law. So this resulted in many people still not able to have healthcare. The southern ministers are now refusing to comment on this problem, stating that they are not in the business of politics, they are in the business of God. How convenient is it that when their issues with Politics and God are conflicting, they are all about politics? The southern view on religion has got to be the most twisted view of all. These White Christian Conservatives need to be taken out. They are the most hypocritical people on the planet, and we would be alot better off without them.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
  16. QS

    Most, if not all of the "pastors" mentioned in the article dress very nice, drive nice cars, live in big houses....and, in all honesty, only remain silent on this issue because it makes conservatives appear to be the cruel and heartless people they really are at heart while claiming to be "good Christians" just because they go to church and give money.

    This is really more about conservatism than religion. But, like I always say, religion and conservatism usually walk hand-in-hand....over other people!

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • randro

      That is dumb.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Barry

    WOW! Great propaganda piece!

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • BB

      What is your church specifically doing to eradicate systemic poverty in your state?

      November 8, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
      • randro

        Feeding the hungry.....how about you-nothing.

        November 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Ken

      You took the words right out of my mouth. And leftists love pulling the Jesus card when it's convenient, as if it'll make conservatives roll over. That crap won't work with me.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  18. Paul

    remember when bush wanted to pass legislation for faith based initiatives? liberals are such lying, hypocrites. my church does great things for the poor. even Romney gave more than both the unqualified empty suit and his moron sidekick.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • waukone

      Christians giving just a portion and only to those that qualify as "christian" or "mormon" or other fairies in the sky.

      November 11, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  19. Rhonda

    Pastors have to be very careful of speaking politics from the pulpit. If they speak one way and it upsets somebody from the opposite side they can be reported for it and endanger, if not loose the church's non-profit status. There are enough people looking for a reason to take religious organizations' non-profit status from them as it is, but to deliberately "bait the bear" by purposely speaking about a politically charged subject, such as the health care law, is to hand it over on a silver platter. Pushing politics from the pulpit is not a good idea. If a Christian wants to stand up and make their views known, they can do it outside the church, on social media, on a milk crate on the corner, as long as it is not in their church's name. That is where we are supposed to be evangelizing anyway. Most of the churches I know are smaller, struggling congregations that can ill afford the tax ramifications of a politician in the pulpit. Freedom of speech does not apply to preachers at the pulpit, apparently.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bella may

      Hi Rhonda,
      I appreciate what you are saying but I attend an Evangelical church. Our pastor has no problem talking about the gay issues or abortion, or voting. He will even talki about party politics. We have a pantry at our church. The lines are getting longer and longer. Not with your stereotype food stamp moochers like people are calling them but real people who are out of work. I am so tired of watching fake Christians who pray in church and pretend to care about the least of these. I watch people on certain news networks laugh at food stamp recipients and people who need insurance. I hated the war but we saw no apology because and hundreds of thousands died. . We went to Iraq when we should have been looking for Bin Laden. Yet, people hate Obama because he is trying to help people. I wrote to Rick Warren and Bishop Jakes. I have their books and CD's. I believe now more then any time that there are many fake Christians who are on TV and in my church.

      November 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  20. roike

    Wait, churches are supposed to promote political agendas...No CNN that's your job.

    November 8, 2013 at 1:23 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.