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. Steve

    The truth is that the "religious right" is neither religious nor right. They cherry pick scripture to fit into a conservative worldview, ignoring the fact that in Christianity, helping your fellow human being is one of the core teachings of Jesus. They're hypocrites through and through.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • kc

      Was it not Jesus that said "I will give you a new commandment, that you love one another" I guess that only means those who think and can dress like them...

      November 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  2. DougJ

    As a non-evangelical Christian, I hate to be lumped-in with these people. They have a very different view of Christianity that is not shared by the majority of the world's Christians. Please don't judge the entire faith by the mis-guided acts of the few.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
  3. kc

    I can never understand, how is it that the people that call themselves by the name of the lord, are the first ones to forget the poor, the needy, the hungry. "In that day, many will say, My lord, when did I see you hungry and fed you not? or Naked and clothe you not?" a"And I will say unto them, for whenever you did not do it to these my children, to me you denied it."

    November 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Money is what matters, not fictional deities. They know that.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  4. John

    These same pastors who won't weigh in on the coverage gap are the same pastors who are screaming in protest against gay marriage. Seems they really have their priorities out of whack...

    November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  5. Handy

    Obama really stepped into it this time! All others have "blown over" . . . but not this one. This is biting him on the butt.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Schoendinger's Parakeet

      Then it will fail and you can crow about it.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
  6. Blake

    I willing to bet that this author has never read the bible.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  7. Jackie Whitt

    These so called preachers of Christ are nothing but wolfs in sheep's clothing. They whine about pray not being schools, and then do nothing about their states who refused the ACA. The South is still living like before the civil war. They, do nothing but put on an act of being like Christ. Built big mega churches collect money and live off of others. Most of those states are run by big money and Republican governors. What a shame. Look at the big bash they had for Billy Graham on his 95 birthday. Jesus, never had a birthday party. Look, who was there, Donald Trump, Sara Palin big fake so called Christians. Why didn't they honor him by helping those who need health care. Oh, yeah, they collect food and give it out, to make their selves look righteous. The pharoees didn't speak out when Jesus was on trial. Itd the same today, Religion is a money making scam on the people. Counting their money in the back room. Its a real sin.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  8. CupOJO

    Wow-worked hard on spinning that one. Really hard. What is really sad is how the ACA effects the poor,elderly,and disabled. It needs to be redone because it is a piece of crap. It puts people who really need Medicaid and Medicare endanger of not receiving services that can help them. Quit trying to boast it. It is a failure. It hurts more people financially and medically then it would have ever helped.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Schoendinger's Parakeet

      Keep the GOP amendments out of it and it would be workable. And it has barely started, hyena.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Nic_Driver

      More than denying people healthcare hurts them?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  9. Scott

    This pastor does not understand the point of the 5,000. Jesus fed them, not Ceasar! It is the job of the church to take care of the poor, not the job of the Government!

    November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • ME II

      Not sure I agree or disagree, but if it's the church and the vast majority of the US is Christian, then why is anyone hungry?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • Hans

        Thank you!

        November 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • Scott

        Hungry? Are you serious. The USA is the only country in the world where the "poor" people are fat.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • ME II


        • In 2012, 5.7 percent of U.S. households (7.0 million households) had very low food security.
        In this more severe range of food insecurity, the food intake of some household members was
        reduced and normal eating patterns were disrupted at times during the year due to limited
        resources. The prevalence of very low food security was unchanged from 2011 (5.7 percent).
        • Children were food insecure at times during the year in 10.0 percent of households with
        children. These 3.9 million households were unable at times during the year to provide
        adequate, nutritious food for their children. The percentage of households with food-insecure
        children was unchanged from 2011 (10.0 percent).


        November 8, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Avi Shlomo

      Then will the church get in the biz of insurance? would we call it Jesus Care: that would be something of hot air and cures NOTHING

      November 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Hans

      Christ came to setup His Kingdom here on earth. It will be Christ"s government. Our nation with a Christian majority ought to think and treat the government as Christ's government and stop being so paranoid and anti-government. We will have a government no matter what. We can make it Christ's government and participate or bail out. God was clear in the Word that he set up all leaders and government for His purpose, we ought to line ourselves up with God and His will and see that this is His government. These anti-government movements is nothing but a money issue. Early believers gave away all they had. Yet our Mega-pastors have multi-million dollar homes, and probably cite personal safety as a concern, yet Christ said "Those who try to save their lives will lose it."

      November 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  10. boocat

    These Jesus freaks are hypocrites....nothing here new to see....

    November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • dan

      I'm only one man, I'm doing the best I can. I try to donate as much as I can, and spend as much time on charity as possible, but to call me a bad guy because I'm a Christian? I'm sorry you feel so terrible, I wish I could help, but I'm already overloaded with volunteering to help people read, and donating my time to water construction projects. I'm an engineer also, but there's only so much Christianity and Engineering can do. I'm trying my best, so please don't castigate me. I'm already up to 60 hours of work this week, and I still have to find time for my family, and do my volunteer work. When someone like you says how bad I am for my religious beliefs, it really brings me down. I just want to do what's best. Let the flaming begin. It doesn't matter, I will continue to help those in need, in the name of God, Humanitarianism and Love as an Engineer and a Scientist.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  11. Stephanie

    I would rather give my money to the humane shelter than to people. People need to learn to take care of themselves and stop relying on the government!

    November 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Schoendinger's Parakeet

      Why do you hate poor people?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Hear, hear.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • boocat

      At leat you're an honest misanthrope....."christian" too?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Momeraths

      Let's use some logic. We'll ignore that corporate welfare costs you more than welfare to the poor for a moment....

      Say, you get your way. We don't help the poor at all. Not one bit. So, maybe your taxes lower a little.

      But, then these poor people with no hope, start commiting crimes to pay for the living. Their children grow up without parents, and they go into a poorly funded foster system. Then they become criminals, too.

      Sure, you're taxes will be lower for a bit, but when they have to hire more police, jails, courthouses, judges, parole officers, etc...
      Who do you think will pay for that?

      See, we used to understand what was good for the public. The Me generation has killed that.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
      • Hans

        Thank you!!

        November 8, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • earthshoes44

      Has it occurred to you that not everyone can afford to go to college, or even should? Have you looked at how much it costs to go? That many people can't afford to go school and support themselves too? That there is nothing wrong with being a janitor or a fast food worker?

      My husband works as many hours as he can, but the company he works for has taken a hit over the last two years. He even makes substantially more than minimum wage. But guess what–we can't afford the health insurance offered through his company because we're living check-to-check as it is. High premiums (that just doubled, by the way) and even higher deductibles. We're careful, but our checks are rarely enough to meet all our bills without juggling. We're supposed to insure three of our four boys (that one just finished college and has a terrific job, thank goodness).

      And–guess what–my husband has a college degree. And I'm about to.

      It's not always about people "taking care of themselves"–it's that life happens despite our best efforts. That no matter how carefully we plan not to wind up scraping bottom, that it happens anyway. Do you really think that a whole bunch of people woke up one day in 2008 and decided to scrap it all and go under?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Hans

      Don't be so quick to judge. Many people for many different reasons can not take care of themselves. They are in wheelchairs because they served their country, or have a disease which debilitates them. So many abled body Americans have trouble finding jobs, yet you expect disabled people to have an easy time of making a living? This is why Jesus made it clear to help the poor, the sick, and the widows.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  12. chuck

    As long as people disobey GOD, these kinds of problems will grow worse. With atheists lying about god casually, even gleefully, without accountability there is no sense in talking to them. They have sermons to preach. They have agendas.

    They are a waste of time.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Momeraths

      That doesn't sound like the Taliban at all, does it?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • boocat

      "Judge not lest ye be judged." Miss that line in your bible? Signed a former catholic...now an atheist.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
      • chuck

        You better know how to evaluate what is true and what isn't. I judge no one. Your guilty conscience judges you, which is good. You still have one. I will not bear the guilt of your sins. You are.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      chuck: jeebus is waiting. do you have tall buildings where you live?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  13. inestyne

    This is called link bait. This guy, instead of actually coming up with original material, is just playing one side against the other. Your a sham and hack Blake. Please find something useful to do dude...

    November 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • chuck

      Absolutely correct. It takes about 60 seconds on the blog to realize it is all nonsense, a waste of time.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  14. SD

    This is why religion sucks

    November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • chuck

      Jesus Christ is not a religion.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
      • ME II

        Are you Jesus Christ?

        November 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  15. PandoraDoggle

    Haha. Separation of church and state, until you think the church should agree with you...

    November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Momeraths

      Helping the poor is a little different than endorsing certain candidates.

      I thought chruches were int he business of providing charity, but around here, it's all about making more money and building bigger.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  16. robert

    I think in an ideal world where the church truly was the church, the government would not even need to be involved at all. We would take care of one another. Check out Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32ff. I am haunted every time I read those verses.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  17. RobertB

    The theology of this article is misguided – not surprising given the left wing seminaries that the 'experts' come from. Jesus called upon his fellow citizens to aid the poor, not the government. He knew that Rome then, as the Obama administration now, didn't care about the people, it existed for the emporer.

    And the politics are equally misguided. The South, bless their soul, still has folks who believe in independence, self-initiative and personal responsibility. They are not comfortable asking for government to tax complete strangers to pay for their ride.

    November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jeff Rome NY

      Oh? Want to explain why every red state, with the exception of TX? Sucks more welfare? Bless their hearts.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
      • RobertB

        I understand that you are a liberal, and therefore opinion trumps facts to you. But for the benefit of thinking folks, the top 10 states in the percent of population on welfare are California, Maine, Tennessee, Massachusetts, Vermont, DC, New York, Minnesota, Washington and New Mexico. Only TN would remotely be a Bible belt state.

        November 8, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
        • RobertB

          And if you want to keep on going for the fine fifteen, add Indiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Oregon. All of the top 15 except for TN, voted for Obama. Red states, yeah right.

          November 8, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Momeraths

      Paying your taxes is a civic duty. Do you skip jury duty?

      Now, I'll agree using that money wisely is a civic duty, too.

      But, the poor use less tax money than governors taking trips overseas and hiring bodyguards. There are problems int his world, but it's not feeding hungry people.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Momeraths

      Paying your taxes is a civic duty. Do you skip jury duty?

      Now, I'll agree using that money wisely is a civic duty, too.

      But, the poor use less tax money than governors taking trips overseas and hiring bodyguards. There are problems int his world, but it's not feeding hungry people.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • jj

      I am even less comfortable with the government using my taxes for all their wars. Yet I pay my taxes. The Feds do all sorts of things I object to, yet I pay my taxes. I don't say 'god said love thy neighbor' and say I'm not paying. Health care is a disaster in this country, and the ASA is a way of getting the costs under control. The healthier you are, the cheaper your care is. The faster you can get to a dentist, the less drilling required. It's just like car insurance. I've never had more than a few fender-benders in my life – yet my premiums are way above anything they've paid out. It's robbery. Maybe if the ASA had the money, lobbyists and Congressmen that the insurance company has...
      And churches take stands on Federal issues all the time. Abortion, taxes, who to vote for... They really need to be taxed. Especially the Mega churches. If your church owns a Bentley or a Gulfstream – it is no longer a church!

      November 8, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Teapubliturd Hater

      So, Southerners are want the government to but out of helping those that need help (elderly, unemployed, poor, sick), but they want politicians to be Christian and a Christian moral in government. How profoundly hypocritical, and your hypocrisy is rampant in this country AND in Wash. DC. You sir, and people like you, are the enemy of our nation and society.

      November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  18. MaRK

    When Romney sticks the American tax payer for a $75,000 bill to pay for his fancy riding horse... he's a smart, shrewd business man who knows the law. When someone chooses to take food stamps because they work a minimum wage job, those same people call that person a dead beat. How is it that these Christians can defend every last corporate hand out or tax break but yet when it comes to the average people they are outraged when they apply for and get what is deserved to them under the current rules. Why do I not get to write off all the costs for my existence and continued up keep while a corporation gets to write off every last expense off their bottom line? Corporations are people too? Well then why not make corporations pay a progressive tax? Why allow corporations to write off basic expenses like food and transportation when us normal folks don't get to take that out of our taxable income?

    November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Murray

      The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, the middle class like myself, many many remain in the middle taxed for it all.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • patsj

      Amen brother!

      November 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
      • Roger that


        November 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • RobertB

      And this rant applies to health care how?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  19. hunter

    This is not a state issue. They shouldn't be ashamed for dropping people. Obamacare did that!! Why are you acting like its other people or things fault why this is happening when its solely the ACAs fault?

    November 8, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Schoendinger's Parakeet

      Why do you hate the poor?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  20. Stone

    How did I know? Another African American preacher that would sell his soul if Obama asked him too.. Probably another Jeremiah Wright. Getting behind the pulpit with his political rhetoric will be something he will have to account for one day. Full of half facts. Why isn't he slamming Obama for lying through his teeth? The bible belt does more for the homeless in one day than Obama has his entire life.

    November 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Jeff Rome NY

      I'm, no, but thanks for showing us what a blatant racist YOU are.

      November 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
      • YES!

        I am a racist because I love the white race. Any other race can say that and be deemed as righteous or proud.

        Why can't I do the same without incurring the wrath of some limp-wristed lefty trying to tell me who I am?

        November 8, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Nic_Driver

      Probably because this isn't about Obama, it's about the ACA and the lack of healthcare for the poor in these states. It's only people like you, (the Tea Party members of the Grand Obstruction Party, the Americans that hate), that keep bringing up Obama.

      Do you think it's Christian to deny healthcare to the needy because of your political leaning?

      (Hint: It's not).

      November 8, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • motorfirebox

      Yeah, advocating to help the poor is definitely how a preacher sells his soul. Do you people even listen to yourselves?

      November 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
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About this blog

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