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. testingforbrad

    Yeah ... thank you religious leaders ... for nothing. Thanks Mr. Keller.

    Rev. Timothy McDonald is a bright light among a dark time. Thank you sir, for your honesty and your genuine care.

    November 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  2. shamgar50

    So the GOP/Baggers, were willing to run the country (and themselves) into a ditch, in order to stop the Affordable Care Act, and you don't think they had a "Plan B"? ALL, notes, memos, e-mails, code, etc. relating to the development of the original site, need to be preserved. They should be thoroughly examined, to see what was done to sabotage the system. It would only require a handful, of well placed operatives.

    The Baggers in particular, are willing to do ANYTHING, to advance their agenda. They have very powerful, and very wealthy backers, willing to funnel as much money as it takes, to derail the system.

    November 14, 2013 at 5:29 am |
    • marysheartisathome

      An environment has been created in this country where name calling and snarky remarks take the place of intelligent and informed discourse. It is possible for intelligent people to have differing opinions. We need to treat each other with respect and present reasoned arguments instead of this fruitless exchange. As a Christian I not only will try to personally participate in providing the needs of those less fortunate than me but will also pray for my enemies–the people who loudly attack me personally and despise my firmly held and informed beliefs.

      November 14, 2013 at 7:10 am |
      • Crom

        Firmly-held, I believe you.
        Badly-informed, though.
        You must be new to the internet.
        You don't have the right to remain un-questioned or un-criticized in any way, nor do you have the right to be kept safe from anything that might "offend" you.
        This is real life.
        This is not fantasy.
        You are caught up in your delusions,
        but there is no escape from reality.
        Open your eyes, look up real facts and see...

        November 15, 2013 at 4:05 am |
  3. dc

    Yet millions of Americans will be losing their healthcare coverage as well. Preventative healthcare has always been available through free clinics in the Bible Belt and hospitals have long been required to render emergency services at no cost to patients who can't afford it. Churches in the Bible Belt also offer benevolence monies to non-churchmembers who need it and church members will always have help from others in their congregations. People who don't get help are either too proud to ask or hate the fact that it comes from a Christian. Sure, some churches might turn down some people, but there are a dozen other churches within a mile who won't turn you down. Beware, because they are experts in sniffing out a scam. In the Bible Belt, national government criticism and local, personal, neighborly help is part of the same philosophy, Hollwood stereotypes be damned.

    November 14, 2013 at 1:02 am |
    • Crom

      You say major scammers are masters at sniffing out other scams? LOL

      Funny how the biggest liars get the biggest bucks. How does that work, exactly?
      Crime pays and pays very well. Just look at your religious leaders – they "work" their fraud a few hours a week and get extremely rich for sponging off of fools like you.

      Yet you hate people in need, right? You think they are lazy because you refuse to give them a job, right?
      That's the sort of thing I see every day. Pure fucking evil, all of it. Don't ever shit on my head and tell me there are cows flying overhead, because that shit don't fly and neither do cows.

      November 15, 2013 at 4:14 am |
  4. MG


    Ms. Mitchell does qualify for Medicaid

    November 13, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
  5. MG


    According to this Georgia Medicaid website, "Shelley “Myra” Mitchell, a single mom with four children who makes $9 an hour working at a Chick-fil-A in Georgia, (who) makes $18,000 a year" qualifies for Medicaid.

    Shame on this reporter for not checking the facts and in the process helping another human being. Too busy scoring political points.

    November 13, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  6. Ken Margo

    For those that get thier smarts by watching fox news. The so called "lie" Obama told. Is not a lie. It's the same as if the prez said. If you buy a house you can keep it. That is a true statement but if you don't pay your mortgage your house will be forclosed on therefore you CAN'T keep it. For everyone that gets insurance from thier employer (like me) It's a TRUE statement. I still have my doctor, I still have my insurance nothing has changed. The individual policies represent 5% of those insured. These policies were GRANDFATHERED in. Meaning as long as thier wasn't significant changes to the policy that policy was ok to have. These policies existsted as if the ACA DID NOT EXIST. The insurance companies did what insurance companies have been doing for years. SCREWING PEOPLE.

    November 13, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I think the rollout should have been better but I think this quote from Huffington Post helps explain another part

      "People are receiving cancellation notices because they were sold health insurance policies that provide bare-bones coverage and expose them to financial ruin if they get sick or injured. Insurance companies sold these plans knowing full well that consumers could not keep them after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards are fully implemented on Jan. 1. The insurance companies didn't tell their clients that they couldn't keep the plans they sold them, and they certainly didn't tell them that the plans were junk."

      November 13, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        I agree the roll out should have been a thousand times better. A website can (and will) be fixed. The sooner it's fixed, the quicker the repubs will shut tp.

        November 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  7. Tea Party




    November 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
  8. Republican




    November 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  9. JayRedd

    They can join the millions who have had their policies cancelled and haven't beeen able to sign up for Obamacare. My guess is that if any of these unfortunates need health care they can go to the emergency room of any hospital and get treatment.

    November 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  10. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    I know we will never get to find out, but it would be interesting to think about how the ACA would be performing if every State had signed up as they were required and actually set up their own websites like NY and California did which are working well. I support the law but am losing my company plan so I had to sign up. It took me all of 15 minutes and I now have better coverage (a family deductible instead of individual deuctibles so my total out of pocket is about half of what it was) and all for the same price I was already paying to Anthem. If that had been every States experience would we really be having this bi tch fight right now? It was Reagan who signed the law (EMTALA) that requires hospitals to treat those with no insurance and no ability to pay, where do you think those costs go? Out of the doctors pocket? No, they go into making each procedure more expensive for the rest of us so you are already paying for those who don't have health care and the fact is that Americans will save billions if we just started paying for some preventative measures for the currently uninsured instead of people just waiting till it's an emergency before they go to the doctor. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, but apparently about half our nation was dropped on their heads as babies because they are unable to understand this simple principle.

    November 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Hey Bob please read the above post. Since you don't understand my english maybe common sense from someone else will make you see the light. 🙂

      November 13, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
      • bob

        sigh. No problem. You couldn’t come up with a valid point so you find someone that you thinks does and tell me to respond to them?? Lol. Silly. i bet you got beat up on the playground a lot and then went looking for some big guy.

        “it would be interesting to think about how the ACA would be performing if every State had signed up as they were required and actually set up their own websites like NY and California did which are working well. “
        Lets take a look. A little googling shoes that California led the states with 35,364 plans selected (not necessarily paid for but selected). They also lost 1 MILLION policies. NY came in second with 16K signed up while only loosing 100K policies. I know we all have differing opinions on “working well”. But really?

        “I support the law but am losing my company plan so I had to sign up. It took me all of 15 minutes and I now have better coverage (a family deductible instead of individual deuctibles so my total out of pocket is about half of what it was) and all for the same price I was already paying to Anthem. “
        No sarcasm here. If you got a better plan for a better price, that is great. Really. However, a little googling shows a tremendous amount of similar stories except they ended in someone’s policy going up. Way up.


        November 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          I'm not sure where you get your figures from. i'm sure they are as made up as your education. Let me guess your favorite "news anchor" is Sean Hannity or maybe it's Bill O'reilly. 🙂 I'll admit the website issues really su ck and that is giving Obama haters something to hang on. The irony of the whole thing is that the ACA is a republican idea but that little fact will be ignored because it doesn't fit your argument. I'm here now even though the website su cks and I'll be blogging when things are working. The question is will you? Time will ultimately tell whose is right or wrong.

          November 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
        • bob

          Sigh. I’ve rebut everything you’ve mentioned (as baseless as those statements were) and even responded to someone that you thought could make the point even though you’ve proven to not be able to form a coherent and/or valid tangible point.
          Then, after all of that
          You question the numbers that you yourself could google. EVEN THEN, you preface the number challenge with a typical lib pathetic statement that you wont accept the numbers if they don’t come from some lib leaning tabloid. Dude, these numbers are widely reported and factual historical events now…


          funny side note…. 1- The cancellations outnumber the signups exponentially (HUGE numbers of people now HAVE TO SHOP FOR INSURANCE that had it before obamas LE) . 2- signing up is MANDATORY. Can you put those two statements together??? That means that the numbers HAVE TO START RISING significantly. That’s the math of it. People in bullets 1 and 2 above have to get insurance. LOL you lib fanboys will soon be stating, “look see the numbers are rising. That proves that this is successful”. Idiot.
          Geez. You are ignorant and will get no more of my time.

          November 13, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          The fact you go to breitbart (fox news jr) for info kills your credibility and enhances your ignorance.

          1)You haven't rebutted anything. you repeat the same nonsense. (facts be damned)
          2)The cancellations are result of greedy insurance companies not because of the ACA. The ACA mandates insurance companies cannot cancel policies signed AFTER the ACA went into law. The cancelled policies were GRANDFATHERED IN so companies could keep their crummy policies in effect.
          3)Romneycare (The white guy plan you have zero complaint about) had very low roll out totals also in the beginning. Now everyone in mass. has insurance.
          4) You should hope the sign up number goes up. You'll pay less taxes not having to pay other people's healthcare bill. (Thank obama for that)
          5) You haven't mentioned if you had insurance. Are you one of those dead beats that want others to pay for your ER visit?
          6) Did you hate Obama when he killed Bin Laden?
          7) Employment #'s have been on the plus side for over 40 months. Do you hate Obama for that?
          8) Wall street is booming, helping our (including yours) 401k's Do you hate Obama for that?
          9) Our Yearly debt went DOWN this year. Do you hate Obama for that?
          10) Iraq war (Another war started by a white guy you probably like) was ended by Obama. Do you hate Obama for that?
          11) Obama saved the auto industry. Do you hate Obama for that?

          I could go on with many other Obama sucess stories. But you would deny them just as you will deny the sucess of the ACA

          November 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          bob. What did breitbart.com have to say about the Medicaid Part D rollout? I seem to remember that had problems with scale and commuication.

          November 13, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Keeth

    The Obamacare webste will eventually be humming along and you can keep your insurance policy and Gitmo will be closed.

    November 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
  12. California

    Only dolts believe Obama.

    November 13, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Average Joe

      Only partisan hacks feel that way.

      November 13, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      This isn't about Obama. He has health insurance. He's ok. It's the 40 million + that don't have insurance. I've asked before. IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE ACA FINE. GIVE US YOUR PLAN!

      November 13, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  13. Debbra Hunt

    ARE you kidding me... biased much? This piece was not what I thought I was going to read... could you be anymore for obamacare... could you use scriptures out of context anymore?

    November 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Is it biased to ask if Christian pastors, who are supposed to speak out for and defend the "least of these," should say anything about 5 million poor Americans who won't get basic health insurance that most Americans receive? How is it biased to ask preachers to say something on behalf of poor people?

      November 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Tracy

        I'm still not getting this. You're talking about Pastors speaking to the the press I presume on a topic that is talked about regularly in the church (as in, announcing something like, bring food donations on Thursday. We'll all meet and carpool at 4:00pm over to the rescue mission). Plz give me examples where, historically Pastors call up CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX or whomever else and say, "Hey I have public statement to make on such and such." This is just a really weird article.

        November 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Pastors have zero problem finding a reporter when speaking against abortion. Ralph Reed loves republicans that are "Christian conservative" These religious leaders love to quote the bible when it comes to being "pro life" yet have zero opinions when it comes to healthcare for the poor. H3ll has a special room waiting for these phonies.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • Tracy

          You make a good point. When it comes to basic moral issues, Christians do speak out. Morality, the poor, the sick are basic issues you will hear them talk about. So with healthcare, that is covered by the actions my congregation which helps the poor with basic physical needs and my Pastor who goes to local hospital to pray for people. But with regard to health insurance, what is the moral issue here? It is our duty to help the sick to be healed and it is important to take action on that. And we do. But you're demanding that church take a position on health insurance? That like saying, I'm against war, but I have to take a position on whether we should build more Stealth Bombers.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          If religious leaders are going to talk about being pro life shouldn't health matter also? Doesn't the child count AFTER birth. The very same "pro life" church leaders also don't speak out against guns either. They quote the bible before birth, after birth "screw em' If you want them to be born YOU HAVE TO HELP THEM. Healthcare is part of that.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
        • bob

          Zealot much?
          that said, religious leaders are not doing enough to curb obesity (300K deaths annually), cars are too fast (30-40K people are killed every year), smoking, etc, etc. those mean old preachers clearly do not care about these people either....
          that said, where are the union leaders and the whatever else dem backed groups on this topic?

          November 13, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Way to get off topic bob. If preachers want to curb obesity fine. If preachers want to stop speeders fine. But in order to do any of those things and more, you need good health and healthcare provides that. Isn't that what it means to be "pro life".

          Union leaders do care. That's why they fight for healthcare for thier members. Unfortunately union leaders don't write laws.

          November 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
        • bob

          “Way to get off topic bob. “
          whats off topic (and what I was alluding to) is this whole blog topic. Obamacare is crumbling around itself. Not opinion. Read the front page of any news source (even cnn). The author is deflecting to `religious leaders not doing more`. Its been mentioned hundreds of times in this blog but I’ll say it again; religious organizations have done more in charity and programs for the poor than ANY lib “tax someone else’s money to give to others” plan ever did.

          “Union leaders do care. That's why they fight for healthcare for thier members.”
          Incorrect. Would you like to look up how many times they lobbied to get exemptions from obamacare?

          “Unfortunately union leaders don't write laws.”
          ??? Silly. Unions have lobbied as much as any other industry to influence politics and have favorable laws written.

          November 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Ok bob no matter what is said you will twist it to fit your twisted logic. Everyone can see your hatred for Obama is blinding you to facts. For a law that is just getting started it's a bit of a stretch to say it's crumbling.

          Yes unions lobby, but they still don't write laws. Unfortunately we need the repubs in the house and we know repubs hate unions.

          I know you'll be even more miserable as the ACA takes off helping people you and the church don't give a damn about.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
        • bob

          Ken Margo
          “Ok bob no matter what is said you will twist it to fit your twisted logic.”
          I’ve attempted to address what you blindly through out there. I cited a few examples, etc. yet you retreat to the typical “your hatred for Obama” deflection. Feel free to dispute anything previously offered.

          “For a law that is just getting started it's a bit of a stretch to say it's crumbling.”
          The numbers released show 100K enrolled. They admit that these numbers are inflated due to they have no view into how many actually paid. so the numbers are not even that `good`.
          Ex Acorn (obamas fraud squad) pieces of cr4p were already caught as `navigators` telling people to lie about registration info.
          Even the 100K inflated numbers compare to 5 million plus cancellations that this LIAR fraudulently hid from America.
          Dems are fleeing from support and proposing their own bill to help save the cancelled plans.
          Etc, etc. Geez dude this is your idea of a success.
          The funny thing is I also keep hearing stuff like “give it time, watch the numbers climb”. Ha. Implying that the climbing numbers would therefore obviously reflect acceptance. Well, der’ the friggin program is MANDATORY.

          “Unfortunately we need the repubs in the house and we know repubs hate unions.” That’s right. They don’t hate repubs. …And that has anything to do with what again?? I brought up the rich Union leaders as a analogy to the WEAL attempt to somehow redirect view from Obamacare in this article to religion leaders.

          “helping people you and the church don't give a damn about.”
          That’s the funny thing about you stooges. You were told that republicans are rich and hate the working class. You were told this by a rich dem elite who I showed played you by profiting off obamacare while you pimp it even though you don’t know what you are pimping. the sad thing is that you believe it.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          keep on cryin' bob. Your misery is my happiness. 🙂

          November 13, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
      • lakeslider

        Churches are NOT the "do good" social organizations they used to be.

        Revoke tax exempt status until they PROVE they are charitable organizations!

        And NO – throwing a tea party for like minded followers is not charitable.

        November 13, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  14. Rick

    Really! Now you want to work together.

    After the democrats, shoved it down our(AMERICANS) throats., with no support from Republicans or the nation. See the polls.


    I hope You love your Healthcare becuase the future sucks.

    AND I HOPE YOUR COMRADE OBAMA feels the pain also. I doubt it.

    Stay well andThank God for everyday you are healthy.

    November 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      "with no support from Republicans or the nation."

      You sir are an idiot. A majority did support it and the progressives who are turning against it or who did not support it did so because the reforms did not go far enough and had to many give-a-ways to the private health care industry that republicans forced into the bill and then refused to vote on it anyway. Also, your comment reminds me what is so wrong with this country, a bunch of whiny sycophant republicans who think they are "the nation" and don't give a shlt about the other half of the country who don't want to go to your church, who don't want your high capacity magazines and see no need for assault rifles, who like our black and brown neighbors and refuse to stoop to the lies of the republican party and their 24 hour lie loop over at Fox News. Our deist founders are turning in their graves at these Teapublicans who couldn't think themselves out of a paper bag. Your God and your racism and your bigotry are not long for this world, and it could not come soon enough.

      November 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • bob

        “You sir are an idiot.”
        I think that you just cornered the market on that.

        “A majority did support it”
        `people` such as yourself followed in behind Dear Leader because he said so. The democrat establishment admitted that they hadn’t even read the zillions of pages in this debacle (shout out john) of a `plan`. How can you honestly say that `the majority support it` when you cant dig up even a minority that even know what it is????

        “and the progressives who are turning against it or who did not support it did so because the reforms did not go far enough “
        That is so far past incorrect that it’s a lie. 1- you cant speak for why others do what they do. 2- how about this for a reason (I know you don’t like foxnews so how about your state run media tabloid?)…

        “had to many give-a-ways to the private health care industry that republicans forced into the bill”
        LOL. Again, I know you don’t like to be forced to look at facts that you don’t like. However…
        the only ones benefitting from this HUGE government and big business `scandal` are obama donors. thats right. the whole time your leaders are pulling your strings to `fight the rich` and `they dont care about us`. they are taking it to the bank.

        “ Also, your comment reminds me what is so wrong with this country, a bunch of whiny sycophant republicans who think they are "the nation" and don't give a shlt about the other half of the country who don't want to go to your church, who don't want your high capacity magazines and see no need for assault rifles, who like our black and brown neighbors and refuse to stoop to the lies of the republican party and their 24 hour lie loop over at Fox News. “
        There ya go. Run out of valid points to contribute so point fingers at unrelated points that you don’t like. also, i get a friggin kick out of the constant attacks that CNN-ers throw at fox news. LOL. seriously? you think fox is `lies` but you eat up the left dominated crap in this tabloid of a rag??? lol. whatever dude.

        “your racism and your bigotry”
        Simpleton. I absolutely love this one. Resort to name-calling. I truly love the `racist` plug. LOL. Everytime you idiots run out of valid material, its “you don’t like him because you are racist”. LOL. Idiot.

        November 13, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
        • Typical Obama bashing rhetoric

          Oh, and for someone calling people out on name calling, you sure sling a lot yourself. We call that being a hypocrite.

          Time will tell if the ACA will work or not. Until then, do you think you can dial back your hyperbole a bit? Probably not.

          November 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Do you realize bob the Obamacare is a copy of Romneycare the health plan in mass. The ACA is an REPUBLICAN IDEA that was created back when Clinton was president.

          You don't have to love the ACA but there is no way you can be ok with 40 million + people w/o health insurance? Think about this. YOU PAY THE ER ROOM VISIT FOR THOSE w/o health insurance. Do you like paying someone else's bill that you never met?

          November 13, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
        • bob

          and again with the `republicans dont want americans insured`. i'll say it again "it hurts everyone when someone doesnt have insurance" WTH does that have to do with not supporting this horrid plan that these `millions` you keep referring to DONT WANT IT. have you seen the numbers or enrollees?
          i want to tie a strong jobs package to the equation. i want those that cannot afford it to be able to and feel great about doing so. i want a strong attack on the disgusting run-away healthcare costs. reduce healthcare costs and more of the people that you keep referring to could get insurance. this plan of `lets all pay full price for all bundled services` is asinine. the only thing more ridiculous is the dem fanboys saying how great it is and everyone should support it. again, this administration admitted that they didn't even read what it is. how can you say its great or its like something else when no-one can say they've read it????
          it doesn't make sense until you read the real scandal here which is the flood of Obama donors that already bought into the new healthcare machine looking for profit.

          they damn sure want `everyone to come together to fix it` so that THEY CAN MAKE MONEY!! `save those without insurance` please. it was clearly never about that or they wouldve planned for this better and attempted to reduce costs across the board in order for us all to benefit while making it affordable for those without.

          face it. you were taken. please open your eyes and help us demand a real plan to help those without insurance to be able to feel good about being able to support themselves for healthcare as well as everything else.

          November 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          "face it. you were taken. please open your eyes and help us demand a real plan to help those without insurance to be able to feel good about being able to support themselves for healthcare as well as everything else."

          OK Bob The world is watching. You hate the ACA. We got it. SO GIVE US YOUR PLAN. The president HAS ASKED the repubs for ideas and what has he got from them NOTHING. So don't be like the repubs. Stop whining about the ACA and give us the greatest plan of all time YOURS.

          November 13, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
        • bob

          “SO GIVE US YOUR PLAN.“
          seriously??? read my post. i offer some real tangible high level points to consider as a basis for a real plan. obama's cronies took 400 ba-zillion pages to write their plan (that nobody read). do you want me to write my version (without the help of a corporate lobby lol) detailed more than above here? in a blog?

          “The president HAS ASKED the repubs for ideas and what has he got from them NOTHING.”
          Really?? Ha. Where did you hear that. Obama grandstanded his `I will not negotiate` all over the world press when dealing with the republican congress. He forced it though all the while knowing that HE WAS LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE about the friggin plan.

          “So don't be like the repubs. Stop whining about the ACA and give us the greatest plan of all time YOURS.”
          Why do you people constantly drop to kindergarten argument tactics like that? This plan sux. Its evident now. Even the dems are backing away from it. That’s not a partisan statement. The whole “you don’t like mine so whats yours?` is childish. WHY CANT WE WORK TOGETHER????? No one said that the dems don’t have good ideas. Those that refused to negotiate with the republicans wasn’t looking for help. He smelled public opinion blood and went for the kill. Well when public opinion is the fan-boy voice, this is what happens. I bet he wishes that he’d of negotiated now. I bet he wishes that he took the delay proposed by congress. That way he’d of had time to fix the website, research what he was ramming thru, etc, etc. this was partisan bood bath politics at its best. Careful what you wish for…. Because you just might get it. Well, he got what he wanted and now he cost everyone.
          I’ll say it again why cant the dems put up their ideas and work with republicans? They wouldn’t take anything from a republican because it was more fun to vilify them at every turn.

          November 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • If only ignorance were more immediately fatal...

          ... we wouldn't have to foot the bill for the toothless pseudo Christian republican meth heads living in their moms trailers like Bob here. Just a reminder Bob, a pair of pliers is not considered dental care...

          November 13, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Just as I expected, NOTHING from bob. The guy is a typical repub. Offers no solutions to problems. Just like to cry a lot.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
        • bob

          Ken Margo,
          "Just as I expected, NOTHING from bob. The guy is a typical repub. Offers no solutions to problems. Just like to cry a lot."
          serious?? can you not read??? i answered your friggin question as pathetic as it was.
          that said, what is your plan?? continue to pimp for this plan that 1- you clearly know nothing about but can only spout generality type spew, 2- deflect to others by constantly posting "whats your plan?" but not reading a reply.
          you are bitter that the dems got 100% of what they demanded, you pimped but did not understand, and now have to sit and watch crumble.
          typical. you've run out of material so you deflect. but dont worry. once Dear Leader comes up with another line, you'll have more approved garbage to spew

          November 13, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
        • bob

          If only ignorance were more immediately fatal,
          welcome to the conversation. Your screen name is ironic. Based on your comments and value add, I can assume that you are the educated liberal elite that I keep hearing about.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          yeah ok bob anything you say.

          November 13, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  15. cleeross

    I like your Christ I do not like your Christians, you Christians are so not like your Christ...Mahatma Gandhi

    November 13, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Izzy66

      "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.
      Mr. Wages says the Bible teaches that the care of orphans, widows and the sick are given to the church, not to the government. " "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.”

      Concerned about the role of the state or Jesus going to Pilate asking him to take care of the poor. Yet you very same have no problem insisting Government, State and Law control every American Women's most personal and private choices. This proves how beautifully cafeteria-like christianity truly is. No religious doctrine or belief has ANY right to impose their beliefs or dogmas upon others UNLESS they live in a Nation that chooses to. The United States does not.

      November 13, 2013 at 11:51 am |
      • Tide

        Really? It seems that the same group that gave you the right, gave us Obamacare. I think the phrase that you are looking for is "Remove the plank from your eye before you try to help the brother remove the speck from his eye."

        November 13, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Tide

      Good article but I find it amazing the Christians were singled out here. It is ironic that we can no longer pray in schools at football games, or anywhere else in public because it might offend someone. We no longer have our rights because there must be a seperation of church and state... However, now that that state has royally messed the program and the rollout up, why is it that Christians are not Christians unless we pressure the government to fill the Obamacare gap? What happens to a Christian who falls into the gap? The same thing that happens to anyone of any religion. So, please ask the Hindus, Muslims, ACLU, GLBTA, and everyone else that has ridiculed me and tried to take away my rights to fill the gap. I for one give a percentage of my income to charities to help the less fortunate. I give my time. I trust the charities more than the government.

      November 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Rob

        Well said.

        November 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
      • Reformed

        Bravo Tide well stated.
        Media detests Christianity that is why they pick no other religions or faiths for mockery.
        However I am not all that pleased that these filthy rich mega church pastors are considered to be the go to pastors when they are not representing the Biblical Truth.

        November 13, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
        • Tracy

          ha ha..well said. Pat on the back to you.

          November 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
      • Tracy

        Agreed...well said. Not sure how it is a "scandal" that prominent Christians are not making public statements about health insurance like all the politicians, late-night comedians activists, and journalists...I mean how is any of that talk more than the direct help that the poor and needy receive from Christians and other charitable people of all religions and event non-believers. I respect and admire those folks way more.

        November 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Oh boo hoo 🙁 . Another whack job lying about "no longer having his rights" You can still go to church and pray to an invisible man. You can still give the pastor money to pay for his Benz. People like you realize your religious days are numbered as people are finally wising up and not accepting religion blindly.

        November 13, 2013 at 5:24 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.