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. Ruth

    I have a newsflash for Rev. McDonald. From a biblical standpoint, I don't think God gives two nickels about healthcare or the ACA. There are far worse events happenning in the world to consider, not just the Americans that might slip through the cracks of the ACA. To use the subject of healthcare, blame it on states and put God into it, is just sinful. I have two scriptures for you to use in your next sermon. Psalms 146:3 "Do not put your trust in princes nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help." And Revelation 21:4 " And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things have passed away." I'm quite sure He won't leave out those who are uninsured nor will he be needing help from the ACA. Not preaching here! Just commenting.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Not preaching, really?. You had me fooled!

      November 20, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
      • Ruth

        Correction Ken Margo. I wasn't preaching to you!! Really!! My comment was for the benefit of the Reverend. Offering a little spiritual food so he"ll quit telling his congregation that they are "leftovers." The scriptures were just to help guide him back to the path he needs to be on, him being a preacher of the Gospel and all. I hope this has helped to clear up your confusion.

        November 21, 2013 at 12:48 am |
    • Ben

      What if we're another 300 years before Jesus returns and the first thing he asks is why you allowed all those people to suffer without medical care?

      November 21, 2013 at 1:00 am |
      • OsamaBinSwaggin

        What. The. F***...

        November 21, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
        • Stuart M.

          Ooooo no, that's not what you would want to say...

          November 22, 2013 at 12:16 am |
      • Reve888

        Probably for the same reason that I let children die in drought stricken foreign countries. Because I can barely take care of myself, and I already give a good percentage of my money to private charities for people both here and in countries where people have it worse off than anyone in the U.S. does, for people with NO education and NO insurance and NO food, and I choose ONE and help that person. I don't have the resources to help more. If the government would quit wasting its money on free phones for people who can live without them, on welfare for people who are healthy, on giving foreign aid to corrupt enemy countries, on paying for foreign civil wars like in Liby and Syria, on free jets for Egypt, on free money for various other even more frivolous activities all around the world, then we could use that money to pay for the health care of those who are uninsurable. The question to really ask is why are we voting for a government that spends all its billions of dollars on foreign aid, on Obamaphones and other unnecessary items when it could be using that money to pay for its citizens' health care? And when you give that same government this new money to pay for the health care, where is that money going to go? Not into the health care, I can guarantee you that. The people who get the Obamacare health care are going to get the worst health care anyone can get, because the government will not want to pay for the doctors visits unless they are dirt cheap. I know. I have Tricare, and many, many doctors refuse to take my insurance. Tricare is a government military insurance. Obamacare will be worse, not because Americans aren't going to be giving forced charity by being taxed to death and then forced to pay artificially high prices for insurance, but because the government is going to put that money into the pockets of the people in Egypt or Syria or drug addicts and thugs or corrupt organization and only a small portion of it will find its way out to pay for doctor bills.

        November 23, 2013 at 4:17 am |
  2. Who Knew

    The reason states won't accept it is the fact that the federal government will pay 100% for 3 years but after that the state is required to make a match to the money. So imagine this cost to the states. Many states are enrolling people like wildfire but when it comes time to pay the piper in 3 years then what? The smart states realize they won't be able to cover this.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Do you realize those uninsured people in the states that refuse to expand medicaid will still have the right to an emergency room? So who pays the piper when that person can't pay the ER bill? You the TAXPAYER. You are going to pay for it whether they have or not have medicaid anyway! Unless you have magical powers to keep the uninsured from getting sick and injured they will still go to the ER, still won't be able to pay and you the taxpayer will be stuck with the bill as you always have. It's better to add them to medicaid so that any discounts that medicaid has obtained can be provided and LOWER the cost to the taxpayer.

      November 20, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • John BlakeCNN

      "Who knew," you don't know. STates are not required to match ACA funding after three years. The feds pay 100 percent of the costs for the first three years and 90 percent of the costs after. The law says states cannot pay anymore than 10 percent of the necessary funding. We're also not talking about the economic benefits in the form of new jobs, reducing emergency room visits that come through Obamacare's acceptance in the states. States often say they can't fund an "unfunded mandate" and the entitlement can grow. But the feds pay 90 percent of the costs after the first three years.

      November 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  3. thecouvs

    I find it extremely hypocritical and two faced how the churches will tell their congregation to vote a certain way on abortion, gay marriage, and pray with political candidates at election time but will not step in to defend the poor of their community. They only want the government to stop people from doing things not promote people to do good. It's extremely hypocritical and the reason I believe these pastors have no spine. They do the easy thing that will make them popular with their congregation and not the hard. Charlatans in my book.

    November 19, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Tracy

      It is amazing how we keep hearing this in this thread. The poor is the one area where we're actually out the trenches doing something about it. Most weeks we're out feeding the homeless in our skid row area and hosting dinners at a local shelter for the homeless. We're providing clothes, socks, underwear and everything you can imagine.This is representative of what churches do all across the country. What exactly else do you want us to do to "defend the poor?" Get in front of a mike or Piers Morgan and say what? The poor need heath insurance. Okay fine. But how? Uh...Obamacare? Clearly that's not working too well. Uh...help them directly? Uh...we're already doing that.

      Listen, Christians are accused of being hypocritical. I think it some areas, unfortunately we're not perfect and we fall short of doing what we stand for. Shame on us for that. But fighting for the poor and sick is one area where you should redirecting you venom at the folks in Washington who misled the American Public about Obamacare and making the middle class, college students, and even some among the ranks of your own supports lose heathcare plans that were working.

      November 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        Tracy, Tracy, Tracy...............Prior to the ACA 40 million plus people did not have insurance. This includes people that had their own businesses and couldn't afford healthcare. Policies were being cancelled when people need them the most. (like they are now) Your state gov't MADE YOU pay the healthcare bills of people that were uninsured and admitted to the ER and could not pay the bill. Did you have a choice paying that bill? NO. Did some someone talk about the bill with you? NO. YOU just paid it through your taxes. That makes it a MANDATE because you had NO CHOICE BUT TO PAY IT. The OLD SYSTEM DID NOT WORK.

        November 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
        • Tracy

          Hi Ken: While ACA could reduce the dependence of uninsured Americans on emergency room visits. Here's a few questions for you:

          1) Do you think the reduction of cost of this lower usage will be passed on to taxpayers.

          2) Do you think the overall costs of implementing and executing ACA will actually reduce the burden on the taxpayer for heath care?

          There is lot of discussion on this and it appears that Medicare’s own actuary (not Breitbart and not FOX News) have reported that over $600 billion is coming out of taxpayers pockets over the next ten years go fund ACA. That's roughly $7000 per family. Now, of course you can quote what Obama's people (and I'm not a Obama hater. I distrust both Republicans and Democrats equally) on how much money we'll all be saving. But based the gap between what Obama has said and what has really turned out to be reality, I wouldn't hold my breath.

          November 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
        • Ken Margo


          1) Do you think the reduction of cost of this lower usage will be passed on to taxpayers.
          According to the Congressional Budget Office, (Independant arm of the gov't) the ACA will save the taxpayer 2 trillion over twenty years.

          2) Do you think the overall costs of implementing and executing ACA will actually reduce the burden on the taxpayer for heath care? Yes because of the mandate that everyone has health insurance you (taxpayer) will NOT have to pay the bill for the uninsured that end up in the emergency room.

          There is lot of discussion on this and it appears that Medicare’s own actuary (not Breitbart and not FOX News) have reported that over $600 billion is coming out of taxpayers pockets over the next ten years go fund ACA.

          According to the Congressional Budget Office it would cost the taxpayers MORE to repeal the ACA.
          Let's do the math. spend 600 million. Save 2 trillion equals 1.4 trillion in the black. I'm no math wizard, but i'll take that.

          November 19, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Tom

      Nice of you to blame the bible belt pastors. But you don't even pause to ask why "a single mom with four children" got that way.

      November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        @Tom..........Trust me a single woman with four kids wouldn't get my vote for parent of the year. Republicans though are PRO LIFE. They want these children to be born. If you want them to be born, then you have to help them. You can't pick and choose who you like to help. If you're going to play daddy, then you have to pay like daddy.

        November 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Dean White

          Totally wrong. Just because one would stand up for the right of the unborn, or "wanted these children" as you put it, doesn't mean that they have a responsibility for the child afterwards. Where is your common sense? The responsibility is on the parent. Always has been, always will be.

          The ACA aka "Obamacare" will eventually snuff itself out anyway, so it's a bit of a moot point here.

          November 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Dear Dumb White... Where is your common sense? If the parents can't afford the child and the gov't don't want to help the child, why do you want them to be born? I guess good "christians" like you love to see starving/struggling children and parents. You can say the parents are always responsible but there are plenty of kids whose parents aren't reponsible. I'll make a deal with you. Why don't we raise YOUR taxes, lower MY taxes, let YOU pay for these kids since YOU want them here.

          November 20, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
        • Clare

          The responsible thing is sometimes to not continue a pregnancy. A lot of people who make that choice are already looking after children, and put the wellbeing of living children ahead of a clump of cells.

          November 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • SlackerSlayer

          Their hopes are to find those starving little brats so they can use tham in depraved ways. It is the organized criminal way. Use those that are hungry enough for your dirty work.

          November 21, 2013 at 7:27 am |
        • Ken Margo

          One important part of the ACA is birth control at no additional charge. Less children mean less cost for the taxpayer to take care of children the parents can't.

          November 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
        • Paul

          "One important part of the ACA is birth control at no additional charge."

          Not true. I think you meant to say "One important part of the ACA is birth control at tax payer expense."

          November 22, 2013 at 12:49 am |
        • Ken Margo

          @paul.............Accoring to this very website. It cost over $230,000 to raise a child from birth to 18. Answer this question. Would you rather pay for birth control or pay for a kid the parents can't afford?

          November 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
      • John BlakeCNN

        I wasn't aware that there was a child limit based on a mother's income or marital status. I guess the implication is that she's promiscuous and should be blamed for a father's absence. I wonder if you would apply that same status to someone who made more money. A working single mom with four kids is "trying to do the best she can." A working single mom with four kids who is poor somehow has loose morals. By the way, two of her kids are in college. I think that's pretty remarkable that a woman working at a fast-food place making such little money can inspire two of her kids to go to college and keep a roof over two other kids.

        November 19, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  4. California

    It's OK, it's only a couple of million, they're all republicans. WE must break a few eggs ect......
    They'll literally say anything to try and push through their out right blatant LIES.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  5. rick

    The comments for the following blog were turned off after only 47 comments. "Woman cited by President as Obamacare success story frustrated by sign up process". I wonder why? If Obamacare is so unpopular, why is no one trying to stop it? We didn't vote for it. In most of the cases I have read, the customer has had to pay higher premiums that they had originally. I am all for scrapping this law until they can get it right. Or at least delaying it until the next president gets into office.

    November 19, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Ken Margo

      If you put everything to a vote, nothing would ever get done. You vote for politcians to make decisions for you.

      November 19, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  6. Twiz123

    First this article is WAAAAAAY too long. Any point that was to be made was done in the first 500 words of this probably 3000 word article. John Blake needs to go back to journalism school or maybe switch to science fiction, where writing 3000 words ironically becomes much more difficult. As to the article, I agree unfortunately with both sides. I should be able to donate my money where I want to generally speaking. On the other hand insurance for the poor is not something that would be easy to do...and I am not so sure the government is going to be able to do it either. Most importantly I find that the government operates similar to the very worst charities. For every dollar that goes in, 80% goes to employees administering the thing and 20% goes to the recipient. So I support helping the poor, but given the government's track record I do not trust them to do it effectively or efficiently. If they could promise those 2 things with some measure of success, with penalties to the government if they fail (like the rest of us have in the real world) then I would support this thing whole heatedly. Of course the president is still lying about not knowing anything about how bad it was going to be in the face of tons of reports passing through the white house...so we know where this is going...

    November 19, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Twiz believe me I don't writing long articles. I wish I could put a complex subject like health care,
      Christianity's treatment of the poor and the difference between justice and charity – along with quoting people with different points of view – in less than 500 words as you suggest, but I'm not that skillful yet. One other thing I will say about your comment, though. People keep describing the ACA as a "government takeover." I don't get the logic. When did Blue Cross, United HealthCare and other private health insurance companies become the "Government." How is it a government takeover giving the private insurance companies 35 million new customers? There is so single payer or government option and the ACA is modeled on a republican concept for health care out of the heritage foundation in the 1990s. Government takeover is a nice slogan for TV, but it does not reflect reality.

      November 19, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • Ken Margo

        John don't expect a reasonable reply from twiz or from any of the other anti Obama haters.

        November 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • Reve888

        Who is telling the insurance companies how to run this show; who is asking for Tricare and other insurances to become so expensive that we cannot afford them anymore? Its the government. The government has taken over theADMINSTRATION of the insurance coverage by insurers.

        November 23, 2013 at 4:34 am |
  7. Steve Finnell


    Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (NKJV)

    Critics claim that since Jesus did not say he who is not baptized will be condemned; therefore water baptism is not essential to be saved. If a heart surgeon told you that if you have a heart transplant you will live; he would not have to explain to you that if you refuse the heart transplant you will die. Negatives are understood. If the electric power company informs you if you pay your bill the power will be turned back on; you do not have to be informed that if you do not pay your overdue bill the power will not be restored. Negatives are understood.

    Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.(NKJV)

    The apostle Peter did not have to say unless you repent and are baptized your sins will not be forgiven. Negatives are understood.

    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http://steve-finnell.blogspot.com

    November 19, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Ken Margo

      I wouldn't follow you on a ticket line.

      November 19, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  8. Stuart M.

    For shame, for shame! These people call themselves Christians? Only Rev. McDonald qualifies as one according to the Bible. The rest of these reverends are too concerned about loosing their filthy lucre.

    November 18, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  9. georgex9

    Compassionate Christians as well as humanists support the extension of medical insurance and regular medical care to everyone.

    November 18, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      So I guess you're leaving out republicans.

      November 18, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
      • maverick19

        Did you ever hear the words separation of church and state.

        November 21, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Yes I've heard of it. Tell that to the republicans who want to eliminate a woman's right to choose.

          November 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • commonsenseguy

      I don't remember Jesus preaching to Tiberius and asking him for heatlhcare for the poor. He asked US to take care of the poor. The individuals should be helping the poor. Why don't these preacher or anybody else set up charities to compensate for the loss of insurance?

      November 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |
      • Ken Margo

        Were you actually around when jesus was preaching to "remember" what he preached about? Their isn't enough people to give money to pay for all the uninsured needs. That's why you need to tax to collect from ALL the people not just some of the people.

        November 19, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  10. fzmello

    Heh. What gospel ever began, "When Jesus' workday was ended,"...?

    November 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  11. cj

    Christian charity is not defined as helping someone by taking someone else's money! Helping 15% of the people by harming/taking from the other 85% is a moral sin, stealing – taking from the one who earned it to give it to one who did not. This preacher has been rolled by Obama.

    November 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I thought Obama was muslim?

      November 18, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • georgex9

      What's wrong with taking a little bit more of everyone's money to assure medical insurance and care for those who lost jobs and insurance and the otherwise less fortunate?

      November 18, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • Ken Margo

        The problem is republicans like Mutt Romney (Mr. 47%) and Paul Ryan (Takers not makers) stereotype ALL poor people as being lazy and like to live off others. As if rich people can't do no wrong. Yes their are people taking advantage of public assistance. But the rich do the same thing. Look at Madoff, Stealing left and right. Who does more harm. Someone stealing some food stamps or someone like Madoff who destroyed the lives of hundreds if not thousands of people for generations to come.

        November 18, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
        • Reve888

          That's the problem with you all you think that one corrupt act justifies another corrupt act. THAT IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH AMERICA TODAY! A BUNCH OF TAKERS!!!!! Neither the corrupt thieving business nor the corrupt thieving healthy welfare takers are just. THEY ARE BOTH UNJUST AND BOTH WRONG AND BOTH THIEVES! This isn't a world divided between the rich and the poor, the workers and the beggars. God sees them as equal. But God sees the JUST and the UNJUST as completely different. God doesn't condemn workers and businessmen nor does he condemn the lame and the blind. But God will condemn the liars and the thieves, weather they be businessmen or welfare fakers. People separate themselves today over race and nationality and over wealth, but the only difference between people that God sees is between the Just and the Unjust. The problem with America today is that preachers spend all their time dividing people between race and nationality and wealth, but have forgotten about right and wrong, and so have their congregations.

          November 23, 2013 at 4:45 am |
      • Dr. Smiley Friend

        "What's wrong with taking a little bit more of everyone's money to assure medical insurance and care for those who lost jobs and insurance and the otherwise less fortunate?"

        What's wrong with it is the TAKING of other's people's money. If you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on Paul's support. Forced charity isn't really charity.

        November 22, 2013 at 12:44 am |
        • Ken Margo

          The gov't takes your money to pay the bills for the uninsured. It's called TAXES. You will pay for it. The doctors, nurses, technicians don't eat the bill for the uninsured that visit the ER.

          November 25, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  12. jj

    It is called the Affordable Care Act

    November 18, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  13. John Vee

    1. Abolish Taxation – then no one will be fighting for who gets what money. - it's a dream.

    2. The Bible does preach to help the poor. At the same time it also condemn laziness, opportunistics, and corruption. I believe the intention of our government to help the needy is geniune. However, the system has been abused for so many to get freebies and handouts while contributing nothing. Therefore, there has to be the stick side of the approach, not only the carrots. Doesn't the Bible say to use a stick to discipline a child? Too bad these social programs have become a free campaign contribution money for some politicians to buy votes. What about if a limitation is set to vote if someone is receiving government assistance?

    3. Redefine the classes. I'm fat up of our politicians who are getting double 6 digits salaries calling themselves "middle class" where only about top 20% has 6 digit income and the average salary in US is only about $48,000? Sure if you live in NYC it's not much, but just because the senator is coming from NYC and living in DC he shouldn't get to say he earns a middle class income. Regardless, I don't think someone making $200,000+ a year like John Boehner should get to say he is a middle class any where in US.

    November 18, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Terry

      We really do not need to bring religion into this. But since you did...
      Q: What would Rev Wright say? Q; what would Obama do?
      To create a program that gives more power and money to a party, deceive people over and over, bait & switch knowing all along that this is a step to single payer, a system that does nothing for the uninsured. It does take money from someone and gives it to another. Government is the problem, not the solution. They could have covered the 15% that was not happy with their care for pennies on the dollar.

      The real question is what did Jesus say Rev.? He did not say love your neighbor with your other neighbors money. A: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. I am not here to judge Mr. Obama but I would not be so confident his intentions are good.

      November 18, 2013 at 11:53 am |
      • Reve888

        Well, the Reverend is certainly stating that Jesus told us to love our neighbors with our other neighbors money. Clean our your own house before you can clean out another's house.

        November 23, 2013 at 4:52 am |
  14. ImJustAGuy

    Why is REVEREND McDonald lying to his congregation? If a state doesn't set up an ObamaCare Exchange, the Federal Government makes it's exchange available to that state's citizens.

    November 18, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • John BlakeCNN

      Please read the rest of the article. Even if feds set up exchanges in states that refused Obamacare, there will be millions of people who won't qualify for the exchange subsidies because they live in a state that refused Obamacare. It's not like the feds are the Calvary who rill ride in to save the day if states say no to obamacare. there will be no calvery for at least 5 million americans living in these states that refuse Obamacare.

      November 18, 2013 at 11:17 am |
      • JeffinIL

        Cavalry. Calvary is something else. Trust me, the government will never be Calvary.

        November 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • Ken Margo

          Why can't the gov't be the Calvary? Somebody has to help the uninsured. Private industry isn't helping?

          November 18, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  15. ImJustAGuy

    I don't buy that tripe at all. If a state doesn't set up an exchange, then the federal government makes it's exchange available to that state's population. Oh yea, I forgot .....the Federal ObamaCare website is horribly broken.

    November 18, 2013 at 10:03 am |
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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.