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. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    It's all about making those greenbacks.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  2. JAY

    Mega Preachers are all about lining their own pockets, they could care less about the poor and uninsured.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I will pray on this a while.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  3. Obo from KFC

    Where is the moral outrage from the good Rev. Timmy about all the lies his savior Obo has told the American people on this foolish Obamacare?

    He should keep his pie hole shut and continue collecting 10% of his flock's collective income for his "church".....this clown makes me sick.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I wonder what would happened if we all calmed down, quit calling people liars and fixed the system so it works properly.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        What works properly is entirely subjective.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:42 am |
      • Sick of those who don't care

        Wait, what you want people to behave? Wow that's a novel idead. Funny how Mass has a very simular program and the state is just fine. But really there are those who will be mad that others are getting take can of. It's a sad world we live in when human health and life means nothing to some.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I care about human health but I care more about making fat stacks and I dislike when the government steals some of these stacks.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  4. Apple Bush

    I think they used a poor example for a photograph to accompany this article. This “homeless” person has a chair, and umbrella, some kind of pillow, several cubs, a killer U.S. blanket (you can’t get those anywhere), several plastic bottles to urinate in, a purse or something and let’s not forget the shopping cart. That is a fine-ass red cart with all four wheels. Much ado about nothing. There is probably a medicine kit in one of those MANY plastic bags this person has, or at least a dirty needle or two.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  5. Obo from KFC

    I love Obama

    November 9, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      I love George Stigler.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:31 am |
      • Apple Bush

        I love bunnies.

        For more important information about rabbits, please visit http://www.wikipoops.com

        November 9, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  6. Dan

    I'm afraid this is misleading. Just because the states refuse to participate means that the Federal Government has to supply that option for those without Health Care. Quit not giving the whole story! A lie is always a Lie!

    November 9, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • ztarbod

      Stop confusing the issue with facts, it is not a fair argument.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Edwin

      Maybe you missed the Supreme Court ruling and do not actually understand how Medicare works, so let me explain. It is run by the states, not the Feds. ACA originally mandated that states would expand Medicare to cover this gap – and it offered the costs of the expansion to be covered by the federal government. But the Supreme Court ruled that states did not have to expand Medicare after all, even if it was being paid for by the federal government.

      So those states where the governor and legislatures are republican decided to refuse the expansion money. The federal government cannot legally do anything, because this is a state matter. Perhaps when you look at the facts correctly you will understand better what is going on.

      November 9, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  7. jimmy

    when jesus fed the 5,000 he didn't do it by taking other people's money in taxes

    November 9, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      So why isn't Jesus curing all the ailments, now? At least the Christian ones? That would sure eliminate a large burden on the US economy. Oh......wait.....are you suggesting that Obamacare use magic to cure people instead of using modern health care techniques?

      November 9, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • mlshatto

      Taking the story literally, when Jesus fed the five thousand, he did it by taking one small boy's entire lunch.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:36 am |
      • lol??

        "Lev 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people."

        And when Jesus wanted to thin the crowds who just wanted a full belly and a Vegas show, He just said,

        "Jhn 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

        Swallow some real blood some time. It'll make you throw up.

        November 9, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • MoMO

      actually, Jesus did take the lunch of a homeless kid to feed the 5 thousands.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Reality # 2

      The bigger question is whether said feeding miracle even occurred. Rigorous historical evaluation by many contemporary NT scholars gives it a thumbs down.

      To wit:

      Professor Gerd Luedemann

      Luedemann [Jesus, 45] offers the following historical judgment of the account in Mark 6:

      The formation of this story derives from the needs of the community. Its historical value is nil. Anyone is free to accept the table fellowship of Jesus and his followers as a starting point for the rise of this story. But that is rather different from the feeding of the 5000.

      Professor John P. Meier, University of Notre Dame

      Meier [Marginal Jew II,966] suggests that the Gospel stories of Jesus feeding a mult-itude preserves a tradition about "some especially memorable communal meal of bread and fish" but does not think it possible to offer a judgment on whether anything miraculous was involved in the meal event. See pp. 950-967 for his complete discussion.

      See http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb003.html for added details.

      November 10, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  8. Chris

    It would be quite different if those who live next door to 'poverty' level people would only open their doors to them wouldn't it? Why don't people take care of their own? Why don't you see the organizations such as the NAACP increasing their dues to cover the healthcare, food, housing, and iPhones for their own who don't have it? Why do we have so many special allowances for people who simply are never going to try to stand up on their own two feet? These questions need to be answered instead of expecting a government to tax other's more and more to take care of someone they know is 'beating' the system.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Hear, hear.

      November 9, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  9. lol??

    Mind boggling mingling, "You need healthscare insurance. We sell it"
    Why's it cost so much??
    "To pay for others who need it!!"
    "Well, the AMA controls the supply of doctors, too. They need big bucks just like insurance company execs!"
    Oh, okay, sounds wunnerful. The check is in the mail.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  10. lol??

    State gubmints have no representation. It was usurped by killer commie mommie and her children, the gangs.

    Hewway for demobocracy, straight outta history from Sodom!!

    Deja vu all over again:

    Isa 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:09 am |
  11. Bob Sanders

    We don't need insurance. We need universal health care like every other civilized country. For-profit health insurance is immoral, and the primary reason for inflated healthcare costs in the USA.

    November 9, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that


      November 9, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • catsighting

      then move to cuban idiot

      November 9, 2013 at 10:11 am |
      • think

        at least spell the country correctly (Cuba) if your going to call people idiots.

        and almost every major industrialized western nation has some version of single payer universal health care. way to cherry pick the communist one to try and bolster your feeble argument.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          If you're going to criticize spelling and such, make sure you get your contractions right.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  12. lol??

    How can you expect slaves to pay for another slave's HealthScare??

    November 9, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  13. lucy truman

    They can buy insurance on the national exchange just ilke everyone else without political connections is being forced to do. Why do you deem them destined to be uninsured. They are required to buy it just as I am.

    November 9, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  14. just wondering

    Funny how the choice to believe in God or not to believe in God raises such passionate disagreement. Humans get so fired up over such personal choices. Maybe we should all focus on our own lives and limit the damage we do in them and to the people around us! I think the God business becomes clear after we die.

    November 9, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      It's not a choice.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:20 am |
      • just wondering

        Belief or non-belief is a choice. Look up the definition of belief!

        November 9, 2013 at 9:29 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          No it isn't.

          November 9, 2013 at 9:30 am |
        • sam stone

          free will and an omniscient god are incompatible

          November 9, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          When a loved one dies, can you choose to believe that s/he is not really dead? When you're starving, can you choose to believe that you're eating a big plate of spaghetti?

          November 9, 2013 at 10:28 am |
      • just wondering

        So you choose to believe then!

        November 9, 2013 at 9:57 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Nope, I couldn't believe in any sort of religious hokum, no matter how hard I tried.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • just wondering

          Free will has nothing to do with being all knowing. We do things we know we shouldn't. It's called free will. Also stubborn or stupid!

          November 9, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          If god is all-knowing, then events cannot happen any way except how they do happen. Your "free will" is merely an illusion. You're really just an element doing exactly what you were always going to do according to the omniscience of your god. It has always been part of his plan that you believe the untruth that you have free will.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Science Works

      Well Kentucky (where creation museum is) finally figured it out and decided to join the 21st century, they are also
      adopting the new science standards created by 26 states.

      That has to be tough for the creation museum.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:25 am |
      • just wondering

        Sience evolves. As we all do. Believing in a higher power does not deny science. Literalism,absolutism.....these are the crutches of a lazy mind.

        November 9, 2013 at 9:36 am |
        • Science Works

          Novel Genetic Patterns May Make Us Rethink Biology and Individuality

          Nov. 7, 2013 —


          No Adam and Eve required !

          November 9, 2013 at 9:41 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Believing in any old hokum is the crutch of a lazy mind.

          November 9, 2013 at 9:41 am |
        • just wondering

          So you choose to believe!

          November 9, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Nope, I have a (relatively) active mind that doesn't accept hokum. I didn't choose not to be able to accept hokum.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • just wondering

          So I'm sorry Dave. You are saying you have no choice in what you accept or don't accept? That's unfortunate!

          November 9, 2013 at 10:17 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          That's determinism for you. I can't wake up tomorrow and decide I don't believe in the sun anymore.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:20 am |
        • just wondering

          How do you know the sun will be up tomorrow? You believe it will. That doesn't mean it will be. I'm sorry Dave ,no one is saying believing can't be misguided or wrong. Only no one can tell another what to believe. It's every individuals decision. Especially on something as abstract as religion.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Yes, I believe the sun will come up tomorrow, but I don't choose to believe. You're creating arguments that have no relation to the initial point. I didn't mention anything about others deciding what you can and can't believe. I said belief isn't a choice and you've yet to make a compelling argument against this assertion.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:40 am |
      • Science Works

        Believe what ?

        Evolution is a fact of life.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:03 am |
        • just wondering

          In science,it's your higher power. In science you know what you know until something shows you a different conclusion. Once more evidence is discovered you reevaluate your conclusion. I believe in evolution and it doesn't contradict my belief in a higher power.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:11 am |
        • Science Works

          Sort of like Supreme Court Justice Scalia, he believes the devil is real.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • lol??

          You've had 25 centuries to prove it. Are you incompetent??

          November 9, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  15. Gabriel Villarreal

    This is blatant leftist propaganda! I'm sure everyone knows the saying, "The road to hell is paved with good intention". This is applicable here. The best thing to do is to create an economy that would allow people to have good jobs with good benefits, then people get their own insurance without having to be subsidized by the already burdened tax payer! And for the so-called "insurance gap", that's what charities and families are for! There are also many people that make horrible decisions by choosing to fund their vices rather than pay for health insurance! Just as there are signs in the National Parks that say, "Don't feed the bears", because then they become lazy and won't hunt, humans should work for what they get! Otherwise, they'll become dependent. And for the truly needy such as old and disabled folks, and for the young, we already have Medicare and Medicaid! This article is a clear illustration that the mainstream media is in the tank for Obama! They see that the vast majority of the country doesn't want the "Affordable" Care Act, and the mainstream media still pushes on with Obama's agenda! I could smell this crap a mile away!

    November 9, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • scarlettpipstrelle

      You can't have such a society when our government gives out hundreds of thousands of work visas to foreigners every year and looks the other way at mass illegal immigration.

      November 9, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • chubby rain

      Leftist propaganda? There are an estimated 20,000 – 45,000 deaths each year from lack of insurance coverage. Many of these are considered the working poor, who work 2-3 jobs to support their families, do not receive benefits, and do not seek treatment for their diabetes, hypertension, and atherosclerosis. Then they stroke or have heart attack and die, leaving their husband, wives, and children behind without a provider.
      Many of the doctors I know who support Obamacare do so not because it is perfect legislation but because they are tired of having these awkward conversations over and over again - telling children that their dad or mom died because of a preventable disease. This is not leftist propaganda. This is a reality that several of your fellow Americans will face this year.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • vegas1970

        Those people died because of "lack of insurance", or lack of proper health care. Those are very different things. Providing someone with insurance which a doctor will not accept because the person can't pay the deductible up front, or because the reimbursement rate is too low, doesn't help that person get healthcare.

        November 9, 2013 at 10:29 am |
        • chubby rain

          "New study finds 45,000 deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage"

          "Nearly 45,000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance, according to a new study published online today by the American Journal of Public Health....'The uninsured have a higher risk of death when compared to the privately insured, even after taking into account socioeconomics, health behaviors, and baseline health,' said lead author Andrew Wilper, M.D., who currently teaches at the University of Washington School of Medicine."

          November 9, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Hear, hear Gabriel. Well said.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  16. Rob

    You roaches are scrambling for justifications to this ridiculous plan. Moreover, you are finding it easier (considering the justifications are not playing out) to trabsder the healthcare topic away from a socialist/nazi plan to a commentary on "why isn't religion doing more? "
    OMG. You libs are pathetic. 1- Christianity has done more in charity and support for the poor than your self rightious "its the greedy republicans fault" based 'plans' ever will. 2- LOL! You hypocrites. You constantly jabber on about keeping religion out of schools, business, etc, etc. Disparage it at every turn. Now when you plan has proven to be what was inevitable, you attempt to deflect to "why don't religious leaders do more?"
    If it wasn't so pathetic, this tabloid quality crap would be funny

    November 9, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Jeanette

      I totally agree with you. The libs do not want the faith community seen nor heard of in this Country anymore but they are sur fast enough to point fingers and expect something from them when it suits them. I say they are getting what they tried so hard to obtain.

      November 9, 2013 at 8:35 am |
      • truthprevails1

        No, you couldn't be more wrong. What the libs want is for you christians to respect the constitution and give equal rights to everyone...not just those who agree with your book of myths. Maybe if you pulled your heads out of your bibles for 2 seconds you'd understand that healthcare and caring for those who are less fortunate is more vital to the survival of your country and our species.

        November 9, 2013 at 8:57 am |
        • EMM


          November 9, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          What does opposing nationally provided health insurance have to do with either the const.itution or equal rights?

          November 9, 2013 at 9:16 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Denying those who normally couldn't afford it is denying equal rights...everyone regardless of income has the right to the same quality medical care. Universal healthcare works for many countries and these stupid battles are not seen.

          November 9, 2013 at 9:20 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          'everyone regardless of income has the right to the same quality medical care.'

          Says you.That's the problem with people these days; always wanting something for nothing. I can't afford a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder. I don't expect the taxpayer to cover the cost.

          November 9, 2013 at 9:25 am |
        • truthprevails1

          There's a huge difference between material objects and keeping people healthy. It really doesn't matter in the end though, regardless of what those who oppose Obamacare think, it is law and thus people best get used to it. How sad that anyone would wish to deny people being healthy and thus more productive due to poor income levels...that's simply not moral Maybe if those people had a hand up they could work on becoming better, they don't all choose poverty. I'm guessing if the shoe were on the other foot, you'd be thinking very differently but until you can look at it from the opposite perspective, you can't possibly understand.

          November 9, 2013 at 9:50 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          Morality is the domain of the religious, I only care about looking after numero uno. Also, laws can change. When they abolish income tax and non-emergency public services, I'll be a happy man.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:02 am |
        • truthprevails1

          So how are the dark ages working out for you?

          November 9, 2013 at 10:33 am |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I wouldn't call February 1913 the Dark Ages.

          November 9, 2013 at 10:47 am |
        • truthprevails1

          A little darker than the year we reside in.

          November 9, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  17. saggyroy

    I got this far: "What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” No, the "good book" says he drowned them in a flood when he had to start over because he screwed up the first batch.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Charm Quark

      And if the bible believers believe the stories, why doesn't Noah's wife, lets call her Eve II, who would then be the new mother of all the people, get even a little worship, nothing? All about Eve, where did I hear that before?

      November 9, 2013 at 8:08 am |
      • Charm Quark

        I remembered, Eve II had Bette Davis eyes.

        November 9, 2013 at 8:21 am |
      • Bob

        Um, Who worships Eve?

        November 9, 2013 at 8:23 am |
        • Charm Quark

          OK, Eve got suckered by the serpent that god created and was dissed by everyone for being an air head. But Eve II along with her three sons started the whole shebang over again, there are no reports of her screwing up, so why not a little credit, worship wise? Look what some christians have done for Mother Mary and she wasn't even a virgin.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:34 am |
  18. Steve

    Actually, if these people made too much money to qualify for Medicaid and they were healthy, they actually could have afforded insurance before ACA. Really, all these people needed were catastrophic insurance with high deductibles–policies now illegal under Obamacare. The real problem was those people with preexisting conditions who couldn't get health insurance. The GOP proposed several pieces of legislation to deal with these people, but Obama didn't even consider them and in fact left the GOP completely out of the negotiations on Obamacare. Thus, we have the absolute disaster that is ACA. No, if these people are now having a problem getting insurance, if's because of the Democrats. To try to somehow blame this on Christian pastors is idiotic. And please, liberals, stop bringing up "the least of these" to justify more government spending. When Jesus spoke that he wasn't talking about people paying taxes so they could finance a $400,000 awards ceremony or forking over a half billion to bail out a failing solar panel company owned by one of Obama's pals. Please stop using bible language to justify raising taxes. You're embarrassing yourselves.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • cooper5

      Way to go Steve–you're such a beautiful guy. Your warm and fuzzy sentiments reflect the sentiments of one of Dickens' most endearing characters: "If they are going to die then let them do it and decrease the surplus population."

      Merry Christmas.

      November 9, 2013 at 8:04 am |
    • Sick of those who don't care

      No one is blaming the church for a thing. As for those that are falling in the gap look at the states. All of the Red states that refused the covrage have the gap. So yes that would be a GOP problem.

      Don't get me wrong I don't like the law ass a whole. My question to you and many others is this. Why are you so upset that poor people might get health insurance? Fact is we are already paying for them. They go to the ER and can't pay. So we pay higher insurance premiums and medical cost.

      November 9, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Sam

      Religion in the USA, the fraud on the American people. Christians only care about making billions from Lying to their people. Big funded churches who do NOTHING for those that need help. But the minister/preacher lives in multi-million dollar home, tailor made clothes, big expensive cars. These are the frauds on the people of this nation.
      Low paying jobs does NOT allow for families to buy health insurance or even buy food for the table. The Republicans continue to push for low paying wages, who get millions from the lobbyist. Republicans and the Church are really the evil of the people.

      November 9, 2013 at 9:35 am |
      • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

        Republican/Democrat, it's the same thing. As long as people keep voting for the same parties, they'll get the same sh!t with minor variations.

        November 9, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  19. Norman Witthuhn

    Churches have not done the job. I know because I am a minister. The health care act is not perfect, but it is the start we need. You expected no problems? That was foolish. We already pay for the uninsured. Hospitals have to treat emergencies, and they are often expensive. Once under care, these extremely sick people continue to cost more. Higher hospital prices and higher insurance premiums. As for thise who refuse to get insurance, shame on you. I don't want to pay for your $ 100000 without you contributing anything. I don't know many uninsured who could afford such a bill. Finally, although not perfect also, social security and medicare are a success. The government can do some things well. It would be great if the government did not have to do it, but these kind of things do not seem to get nothing without government. Som e things are not getting done well, because we do not have the will to solve. Homelessness is an example. There can be ways to help and get the homeless to be responsinle. Let's work to make this work.

    November 9, 2013 at 7:27 am |
  20. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    God is Love.

    Jesus is the Embodiment of Unlimited Love, Salvation, Compassion, Generosity, Righteousness, Blessing, Forgiveness, Healing, Prosperity, Success, Victory, Power, Wisdom, Inspiration, Knowledge, Peace and Joy!

    Christians are to be the Personality and Presence of Jesus through the in-filling of The Holy Spirit.

    Christians do not and cannot earn salvation through good works. Salvation is a free gift and is based entirely on God's Love and Grace which is God's Unmerited Favour which He extends to all, in Jesus' Name!

    Christians do not, must not and cannot preach Republican or Democratic, Conservative or Liberal political views, programs, or governmental policies of any kind.

    Christians must preach Jesus and His Pure Love.

    The Love of Jesus is infinitely more liberal and more generous and characterized by more glorious prosperity, healing, blessing, success, joy and peace than the most liberal Democratic or Socialist Politician.

    Christians should embody that.

    Christians should preach that.


    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    November 9, 2013 at 6:15 am |
    • truthprevails1

      So there was no love or compassion before man made up the stories of your imaginary friends? The only laws that truly must be followed are the ones set out by the government in the country you reside, christian rules have no standing in that beautiful Secular nation!

      November 9, 2013 at 6:55 am |
      • Caleb Boone

        Dear TruthPrevails1:

        I gather that you do not believe in The Bible.

        The Scripture and Salvation and Redemption through Jesus' Sacrifice and Death on the Cross must be accepted on faith.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        November 9, 2013 at 7:26 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Right and given that it must be accepted on faith means that you obviously do not care that what you believe is true.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Reality # 2

      And now for some 21st century reality:

      Strong circ-umstantial evidence that there is no god (or did they all die as martyrs?)

      Number of your god's creations who died horrible, painful deaths from the following diseases:

      1. 300,000,000 approx.

      2. 200,000,000 ?

      3. 100,000,000 approx.
      Black Death

      4. 80,000,000–250,000,000

      5. 50,000,000–100,000,000
      Spanish Flu

      6. 40,000,000–100,000,000
      Plague of Justinian

      7. 40,000,000–100,000,000

      8. 30,000,000[13]
      AIDS pandemic

      9. 12,000,000 ?
      Third Pandemic of Bubonic Plague

      10. 5,000,000
      Antonine Plague

      11. 4,000,000
      Asian Flu

      12. 250,000 or more annually Seasonal influenza

      November 9, 2013 at 6:57 am |
      • truthprevails1

        Careful there, people like Mr Boone will blame all that on their imaginary friend's enemy satan. 🙂

        November 9, 2013 at 7:08 am |
        • Caleb Boone

          Dear TruthPrevails1:

          You are right.

          God is Love.

          God can only mete out Blessing.

          Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

          Sincerely yours,
          Caleb Boone.

          November 9, 2013 at 7:30 am |
        • truthprevails1

          No god is a figment of mans imagination, nothing more.
          You tend to forget that the christian myth is a spin-off of varying other religions (paganism is a good start). You tend to dismiss all other religions/belief systems that came before yours.
          There is no reason to believe that your belief system is any more true than any other. In fact you belief system is one of the most divisive there is. Your imaginary friend god is not worthy of worship and in fact if it were a real man, it would be sitting in jail for its crimes against humanity. I don't understand how you think a god that condones slavery; child abuse; oppression of women and LGBT; rape; murder and numerous other atrocities...is a good thing.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:22 am |
      • Caleb Boone

        Dear Reality # 2:

        All these sicknesses, diseases and disasters were/are not acts of God.

        God is Pure Love and can only Bless.

        He desires only to Bless Everyone.

        He is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        November 9, 2013 at 7:35 am |
        • james martin

          In the beginning God told Adam and Eve that if they partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would surely die. Death and all of it's causes are the result of God's punishment. Because he didn't forgive them we are all required to ask forgiveness in order to get into heaven. If he refused to forgive Adam and Eve how can I believe he'll forgive me? The Bible says not to punish the son for the sins of the father but God has punished billions for the sins of two people.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:13 am |
      • Ibelieveinhim1

        You must be kidding right? Have you taken anthropology class on the evolution of diseases? You will find out that most of these illneses were a direct result of human activities. What would you say about global warming sir? God made this beautiful world but if we screw it up he is not going to fix it for you again. Its your fault so deal with it and stop looking for someone to blame.

        November 9, 2013 at 8:42 am |
        • Reality # 2

          "most of these illneses were a direct result of human activities." Please verify with reputable references.

          November 9, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Charm Quark

      You seem to have forgotten....
      Jesus loves wars, he likes to see god's creations slaughtering each other even if both sides battling believe in his love and grace.
      Christians should understand that the love of jesus is a scam perpetrated by a whole lot of fat cat clergy too lazy to work for a living.

      November 9, 2013 at 7:12 am |
      • Caleb Boone

        Dear Charm Quark:

        I disagree.

        Jesus in The Son of God.

        Jesus therefore has all the qualities of God, including Pure Love, Forgiveness, Generosity, Healing and Peace.

        Jesus is the Embodiment of Victory, Power, Joy and Prosperity for all.

        Sincerely yours,
        Caleb Boone.

        November 9, 2013 at 7:40 am |
        • Science Works

          Caleb Boone

          The Texas publishers also disagree with you !

          They said NO to creationism/ID for new text books for 2014 and text books last about ten years.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:00 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Well, sorry to say he/jesus really sucks at it, it being what you said in all your posts. If that mythical jesus figure of yours were to pop back into existence , he would probably be mightily p!ssed at all the temples and deceivers that make a good buck selling the myth. He would probably only be able to round up a few hundred Christians that live according to his teachings. Gandhi I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

          November 9, 2013 at 8:00 am |
        • Science Works

          By the way Caleb Boone,

          The new text books will cost about a billion dollars to print and educate the children, that is not a SCAM !

          November 9, 2013 at 8:33 am |
        • Reality # 2

          Hmmm, let us see what some of the experts (NT, historical Jesus exegetes) have to say about the "Son of God/the Father references in the NT:

          Matt 7:21
          “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."

          Not said by the historical Jesus, but more embellishment my Matthew. http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/111_Invocation_without_Obedience

          Matt 9:6 Passage notes "Son of Man" not Son of God.


          Matt 10:32-33, ""Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; /33/ but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven"

          "Ludemann [Jesus, 344] states " this is a prophetic admonition from the post-Easter community. For it, Jesus and the Son of man were 'identical in the future: Jesus will return in the near future as the Son of man with the clouds of heaven. In his earthly life he was not yet the Son of man, since he will come to judgment only with the clouds of heaven (Dan. 7.13f) at the end of days' (Haenchen)."

          Matt 11:27 "All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

          http://wiki.faithfutures.org/index.php/045_Father_and_Son and

          "Lüdemann [Jesus, 330f] invokes the classic description from K. Hase of this passage as a "thunderbolt from the Johannine heavens." He notes the typically Johannine reference to mutual knowledge between Father and Son, and the absolute use of "Son" as a designation for Jesus. In dismissing the saying's authenticity, Luedemann also notes the similarity to ideas in the post-Easter commissioning scene at Matt 28:18, "All authority has been given to me ..."

          Matt 1:20- 225 (another "pretty, wingie thingie requirement)

          20/ But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. /21/ She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." /22/ All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: /23/ "Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means, "God is with us." /24/ When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, /25/ but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus."

          "Bruce Chilton

          In Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circ-umstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural paternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus' life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus' self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest. "

          Mark 1: 11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."


          "Gerd Lüdemann

          Lüdemann [Jesus, 9] affirms the historicity of Jesus being baptized by John, but does not trace the theological interpretations back beyond the post-Easter community:

          ... Jesus did not regard his baptism as appointment to be the son of God. The underlying concept derives from the community, which believed in Jesus as the son of God (cf. Gal. 2.16; 4.4) and located his appointment within his lifetime. In the earliest period, for example, the appointment of Jesus as son of God came only after his resurrection from the dead (cf. Rom. 1.4).

          "John P. Meier

          The second volume of A Marginal Jew devotes considerable space to a study of John as "mentor" to Jesus. The historicity of the baptism is addressed on pages 100-105, before considering the meaning of Jesus' baptism on pages 106-116. On the basis of the criterion of embarrassment, supported by a limited proposal for multiple attestation (relying on possible echoes of a Q version in John's Gospel and in 1 John 5:6), Meier concludes:

          We may thus take the baptism of Jesus by John as the firm historical starting point for any treatment of Jesus' public ministry. (II,105)
          Having established the historicity of the baptism event, Meier is adamant that the narrative must be seen as a Christian midrash, drawing on various OT themes to assert the primacy of Jesus over John. In particular, Meier insists that the theophany must be excluded from all attempts to understand the event, since it is a later Christian invention rather than a surviving memory of some actual spiritual experience of Jesus.

          Meier's discussion of the meaning of the baptism puts great weight on the fact that accepting baptism implied Jesus' agreement with John's apocalyptic message, and also engages at length with the question of Jesus' sinlessness."

          November 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
      • Ibelieveinhim1

        You are such a liar! When the roman soldiers came to arrest and peter drew his sword to fight what did Jesus tell him? For the record, he told him 'put your sword back, I am for peace not war.' I really some you guys really hate christians here in this country for no reason.

        November 9, 2013 at 12:22 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.