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. TooHot

    No system can hold back what the rightiousness says shall be done. We need to stop catering to the system and change the way things are done. Stop giving so much power to professionals who make money off of others. A grandmother use to take care of every ill child in the family. Now it's a $500-$1000 trip to the emergency room without love. Insurance is not the answer, humanity is the answer. It shouldn't cost a years salary to go get help when illness developes. We have to change our way of doing things or more of the same is to be expected. The rich bleeding the poor! It's not how can I help you anymore. It's more like what can you pay? Even in churches!

    January 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm |
  2. vintageman43

    You are right...on the money

    January 5, 2014 at 7:26 am |
  3. Wayne

    This administration is extremely hard on the poor and middle class. Everything it tries to do or says is the opposite, The ACA is not affordable . They say they hate rich people but support the stock market making the rich richer! BO is killing the middle class!! He is swelling the unemployed by killing jobs and hours!
    This administration uses the IRS, EPA, OSHA, ATF, etc to punish Obama's enemies!
    To top it off this administration is inept and incompetent! Transparent?!?!?!?!

    December 31, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Waddell

      you mean you just found out ??

      fine i wont laugh !

      January 5, 2014 at 8:38 am |
  4. Hear The Truth

    See the photo album at Hearthetruth.imgur.com

    December 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • wjshelton

      Your display of ignorance and intolerance is not only disgusting, it is decidedly unChristian.

      January 5, 2014 at 6:22 am |
  5. Hear The Truth

    Check out http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    December 31, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  6. NanaK52

    The government is not called to be the Church! When we, the people, attempt to make government do what we, the Church, are called to do, we give far too much power to the government. This leads to tremendous waste, an insidious growth in lust for power within the government with a corresponding apathy in the Church. Most negatively, a huge government works without the restraining boundaries of Scripture. Any by the way, whenever anyone falls within, or without, the Church, it simply proves the Scripture that says: "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?" Jer. 17:9

    December 31, 2013 at 5:58 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Did you ever consider that maybe that scripture (which btw proves nothing and means nothing outside of your belief system) was written like that to fool the gullible and make you weary of straying from the crazed system of christianity?

      December 31, 2013 at 6:19 am |
      • Richard Bucci

        To truthprevails1 , I'm really not sure what your truth is, but it's obvious your deceived. My faith is a life. It's not some crazed system. I choose to honor Jesus by living my life. Do I fail most of the time, heck yes. But if you put your faith in you, well that's doomed to fail.. My relationship between God and me is personal. I'm not going to try to convince you of anything, believe me I have seen more death then you have in a lifetime, overseas and at my job, Their is something so much more after this life, heaven or hell , but hey that choice will always be your. In relation to this article about Obama care, this is the dumbest article I have ever read. Their is no simalarity between the two.

        January 1, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Richard: How is caring that your belief's are based on evidence that is substantiated by more than one book being deceived exactly?
          Given that you don't know me, your statement in regards to death is fallacious.
          There is nothing to substantiate with any evidence that is testable, that there is anything more than the one life you live presently and until there is that evidence, there simply is no justification for believing.
          You don't believe in Zeus or unicorns, what makes your god any different?

          January 1, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          It's ok truthprevail1, you have your truth, and I have mine. I'll bet you that you believe that the Roman Empire existed, you probably believe it's based on facts, even though the Roman Empire wasn't written until 800 years after the fall of the Roman Empire. I'm not sure you have ever read the bible, from the beginning, genesis to revelation there is only ONE central theme, Jesus. I believe that Jesus is not for everyone, even though He died for everyone. I still have a hard time with that too. But man, that is love! I can't tell you what Jesus would do for you but I know what he has done for me. I'm not sure how old you are but probable 40 to 60 range probably a male. Go buy the new AARP Magizine. I'm in the center of the Magizine, this dec/jan issue. I have seen too many miracles and know that God exists. Oh and for the record,, it's faith that is the foundation of why I believe that the Bible is the living word of God. I don't sugar coat what it says and I have seen more lives changed cause of that book.

          January 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Saying it is faith that is the foundation of why you believe only tells one that you don't care that your beliefs are based on evidence, after all that is exactly what faith is-belief without evidence.

          January 1, 2014 at 3:30 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Richard, you have no proof other than your feelings, which is all any god believer of any flavor ever has. Your own bible says that the elect can be deceived, and that the devil can work miracles just like god that can trick the saved. So you really have nothing at all except your opinion. You remind me of the sincere, faithful, and good muslims I have met: Completely convinced that they are correct and that their god is THE god and that their way is THE way.

          January 1, 2014 at 3:26 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          There is such a big difference in the Muslim religion then Christianity. Their are a lot of faiths and beliefs out their. Hey I was raised catholic, but I realized its a relationship not a religion. I have a fantastic relationship with my wife, it's loving and personal, it's between us, that's the relationship I have when I asked Jesus to come into my heart. Do I always get it right, no. But it's a process. I use to run in 5k races, now I walk in the back of the race laughing with my grandson and wife, having a blast. My point is, I have never met an athlete that started off as an athlete, it's a process, like walking, everything is a process. Oh Jesus is the only one in history that claimed to be God. Muhammad, Buddha never claimed that. The trinity messes people up but it's very simple. Oh and if you believe the devil exists, that don't take much to see that in this world, then you believe in God. Can't have one without the other.

          January 1, 2014 at 3:49 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Of course religions are different from each other. Duh. I never said otherwise. Shoot, some christian denominations aren't anything like other christian denominations.

          But that's not the point, and you know it. The point is that you don't have any more measurable proof than any other believer who is just as convinced that he is correct as you are convinced that you are correct. Everybody just believes that their version and their god is THE way because they FEEL that it is. What god would you be serving if you had been born and raised in some fundamentalist controlled regions of Saudi Arabia?

          January 1, 2014 at 3:55 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          You really want to know why I believe what I believe? When you read about Christians being put to death for the cause of Christ. Or the early apostles who were stoned, one even hung upside down on the cross, cause he didn't think he was worthy enough to be crucified like Jesus. My question was WHY? There's no logic to it. All throughout history people were willing to give up there lives for there belief. Not like Muslims who blow up others. If your looking for evidence it's the change of your heart. I knew a man who was a captain in the hells angles, big guy 6' 7 ' over 290 lbs tattoos long red hair. He was the most intimidating man I have ever met. My pastor led him to Jesus just cause my pastor drove a motorcycle. His eyes sparkled, his whole life changed, he use to baby sit my son, that's how God works, first He changes the heart. Our lives can still be messed up, but it's a whole different world. I can't give you a fact a sheet of paper that's says this is the way, you have to do that for yourself. It's obvious your searching. Like I said its a personal thing.

          January 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          I forgot to ask you.. Did you celebrate Christmas or give someone a present? If you did, now that's crazy, giving a person or celebrating a holiday that is founded on the birth of a savior, Jesus, who died 2000 years ago. And you don't believe, really!
          Not that's crazy. I love it when I hear some uses Jesus name in vain or anger. Crazy to use a name of a person who died on a cross, that they don't believe existed but use that name. Use any other name. But I'm must be crazy. Laugh out loud

          January 1, 2014 at 4:22 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Bucci, get back with me when you have the slightest clue what the point was of my earlier posts. You may as well be a "fundie-bot" who is incapable of independent thougth–as far as I can tell from your posts.

          January 1, 2014 at 4:28 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          To Cpt obvious, not sure what you mean cause can't find your post, not sure what you mean by my not being capable of having independent thought? You are a very confused person, I made the choice to give my heart to Christ, obviously you must have a perfect life, free of any problems, marriage or death. I'm amazed how foolish a person can be to even think a big freaken bang created all this, air to breath oceans food water, rain. The perfect chemistry for us to survive. Where is evolution now, what new item has evolved besides a persons stupidity to think you are a matter of chance, a roll of the dice. Now that's brilliant. Like I said you have heard the message, so when you stand before the big boss you can't use the excuse, I didn't know. Since your scared and alone in your dependent thought the only people I feel sorry for are your children, they are watching what you believe, you can either take them to heaven or hell, that dependent thought will always be your choice.

          January 1, 2014 at 8:03 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          Bucci, I don't know how all this stuff got here and I don't know why there is something rather than nothing and I don't know exactly how life began and I don't know lots of other stuff.

          And neither do you.

          I'm just honest about what I don't know. If it's easier for you to believe that some big invisible sky wizard chanted magic spells for six days to cause all this than to simply be honest and admit that you don't know the answers that nobody knows, then be my guest. The fact is that you have ZERO proof--exactly like every other believer of every other religion/god. Gravity, math, and chemistry are so obvious that nobody debates that they exist and everybody MUST perform them the same way; you'd have me believe that the same god that can communicate gravity, math, and chemistry can't manage to communicate his will as clearly and obviously for all humans. And that's just stupid and/or the advocacy of some trickster god who nobody could trust anyway.

          Get back with me when you've got something the believers of all the other gods and religions don't have: Proof.

          I don't need proof to be honest and say that I don't know and neither does any other agnostic atheist like me.

          January 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          At least capt obvious you do have a belief in something. A belief in nothing is still a belief. But like I said you don't answer to me nor will you stand before me when you die.

          January 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I believe all sorts of things, Bucci. One of my beliefs is that consciousness is a product of the human mind and upon death it ceases, so I will know nothing about anything when I die, and I will stand before no one and answer for nothing. I am far more moral than any god who would allow ANY human to be tortured forever in a pit of never ending fire, and I do not derive my morals from some invisible sky wizard who chants magic spells for six days to produce the experience of this universe and our lives.

          January 1, 2014 at 8:50 pm |
        • Richard Bucci

          Well I guess you views are your views and mine are mine. I never try to sway anyone to what they should believe. It's hard enough trying to live it. I don't judge people either. Too many believers on both sides try to tell you that what you and I believe is wrong. I tell people that your actions tell people what you believe. Like I said I don't judge.. I have known people that didn't want to believe cause their animal wasn't going to heaven, lol. I' don't worship animals either. Hey it's ok we all make choices, but don't use the I can't believe a loving God would allow people to burn in hell. That my friend is a cop out.. I can show you in the bible where children were killed. Everything happens for a reason, no such thing as a coincidence.I'm living proof to that.

          January 1, 2014 at 9:22 pm |

          Richard, there were people that even walked with Jesus who still turned their back on him. Within these blogs are people that have no clue about faith. They exercise faith every time they sit in a chair or drive to work. However, they do not acknowledge it.

          Hebrews 11:1
          Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

          As far as death is concerned, I understand you. Its hard explaining things like serving in a combat zone and treating battlefield wounded. It has an impact. My faith served as a shield that spared me from the spiritual brunt of what I've seen. Some people have not lived where life has forced them to take a knee. But life eventually finds every man's weak spot where he see's the futility of his own works. My God has been good to despite the hard times and my complaints.

          I think people in this blog are scared. I can't think of any reason why one would rant on and on about a God they don't believes exists. It must be some lack of security in their own belief system. My God has been forever, present, and future. Here, men get their 15 minutes. This blog has no spiritual meat and serves little purpose for spiritual growth.

          If you truly believe that you have no soul that makes you different and unique from all creation and that there is no God for it to return to when your body returns to the earth, then I am fine. If I am right in my beliefs, then there is reason for us to worry.

          January 2, 2014 at 9:32 am |
        • richard bucci

          To antire, I loved your choice of words. You are so right, they are scared of not knowing. Most think they have to give up and now have all these new rules to live by. I was like that too! I didn't realize the freedom to live and what the savior has instore far exceeds anything this world could offer. What bothers me most is I don't blame people for not wanting to except Christ, us believers have screwed that up. My dad would say we talk from both sides of our mouths. Most believers are so busy trying to prove their way is right..instead of living it. Then when some so called pastor falls from grace, the people say, see I told you.. If believers would live the way they believe that light would shine and people would want to meet the savior. I guess the scripture about dieing to yourself is a every minute process not a once a week or year process. Sorry I didn't answer you sooner. Busy night at the fire house.

          January 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm |
      • l33ter

        What is the crazy system and why is it crazy?

        January 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm |

    The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about...........

    This heading is kind of misleading....they should have stated.....The SCANDAL SOME STATES HAVE MADE OF OBAMACARE.

    December 27, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Ddtgwt

      This is a non issue, these people are eligible for Medicaid in every state. The reason most declined is that in the near future the federal government turns the costs back over to the state and they know they cannot afford the costs associated with the expansion of Medicaid without federal assistance. Considering how many states are in trouble financial I would applaud these governors for their foresight. Typical that this so called journalists would present such a slanted biased point of view. Journalism is dead in America.

      January 3, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Kutumbarao Tummala

    Some people/organisations want to please all. They do not talk about controversial issues.

    December 25, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  9. Mossback

    Think about it... Jesus did all kinds of neat stuff without Caesar's assistance or the denarii of others.

    December 25, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • NanaK52

      My thoughts exactly, but you said it so much more concisely! 🙂

      December 31, 2013 at 6:00 am |
    • TexanWarrior

      Would Jesus lead Roman Troops in seizing food to feed the hungry?

      January 5, 2014 at 5:40 pm |
  10. John W Hargis Sr

    I never listen to preachers who wear clothes that cost over a few hundred bucks, shoes included, wear sackcloth and drive an inexpensive car, then i'll listen.

    December 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  11. coos guy

    they can buy mine I refuse to pay what they're asking

    December 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Charles Benson

      Like all socialists agendas, they have to be paid for by somebody, they won't be paid for by the richest in society, they will be paid for by the middle class, as usual. The feds produced something according to Nancy Polisi's instructions, "you have to pass it to read it." They did, now that people are reading it, they realize it is worthless double-speak. It can't be done. That's why 25 States are refusing to do it. The feds couldn't even get the website going.

      December 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  12. swohio

    Yes, I read the entire article and I'm still going to post my initial reaction after reading a few parts of it.....

    QUOTE: "A pastor who publicly weighs in on the subject could divide his or her congregation or risk their job."

    Oh bull c r a p. As a minister of the gospel, you don't worry about losing your job or splitting your congregation simply because you're teaching the truth of Jesus. There's one word, and one word only that I can give to why these ultra-rich pastors in the Bible Belt are remaining silent about the Obamacare gap: Hypocrisy.

    Excuse me, make that two words. The other is: Greed.

    As a believer in Jesus Christ, people wonder why I don't like mega-churches, or even attend church at all. It's because most of them don't preach the truth, or don't know what they're talking about, or are simply uninspiring and have pastors who include sermons which reference the works of these so-called mega-church pastors/Christians as "authorities". It's as if they place the interpretations of these men above the words so clearly presented by our Lord Jesus. Frankly, Osteen nauseates me and I refuse to pay attention to any of these other preachers who spout off a bunch of feel-good, hyper-positive words that ignore the deep reality which affects those who are poor and truly hurting. They simply don't get it because they don't experience it themselves. All they want to do is take the glory away from God, tell you to focus it on yourself, preach self-help seminars, and try to explain how to get wealthy.

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

    The problem going to a church for assistance with healthcare is this: Which church do I go to when I need the money to see a doctor, or need to have a surgery bill paid, neither of which I have the money for? Furthermore, what's the limit in help available? $100? $200? What happens when you're poor, and you incur medical expenses that run into the thousands of dollars, but which aren't covered by a states financial assistance program? See, it's EASY to preach....but I'm sure it's a LOT harder for to implement what this pastor is saying.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Charles Benson

      it has been my experience that when someone goes to a church for help, they get the old response,"why don't they go to the government?" or "Don't they have any family members to go to?"

      December 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  13. John Sharp

    These ministers are reptilian.

    December 24, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  14. Ali

    No surprise churches in America give huge sums of money to charities every year – past and present – along with providing myriad other services. The fact that the more heavily Christian states in the country do it heavily through their churches – instead of relying on the state to do so – is not surprising or new at all. Their faith in God and acts of charity stemming from that faith is a requirement they rise to meet through personal deference to God's commandments and Christian love consistently every year. The focus of the article is what? That churches give to charity but don't talk about the state enough? That churches should give less to charity and more to the state? That churches should bow deeper to government than to God? That God should be a servant to the state? Or that all charity should go through a debt-ridden treasury, by god.

    December 24, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • swohio

      Ali, what church should a poor, non-Christian seek out when they need money to see a doctor, or need to have surgery performed? And what is the limit the church should extend to them? What if the medical expenses run into the thousands of dollars? Is the church prepared to handle that kind of expense for multiple people?

      December 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • Richard Bucci

        Since when is the church responsible for your bills. How about they pay the pore bill, or make my car payment?

        December 25, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  15. ghost

    I thought they were going to mention the fact his real name is barry and he was married to a Pakistani man in his college days in Indonesia in a bromance ? guess that's the next one.

    December 24, 2013 at 3:04 am |
  16. Tracy Marshall

    John S: Rather than name calling you can actually speak to the issues that are pointed out in Rich's statement. Here is what he said. What exactly do you find objectionable about it? Be specific.

    I have been reading some of the most ridiculous comments ever. Imagine blaming the church for healthcare.maybe we should blame Muslims for healthcare, oops sorry we can only blame Christians since the Oval Office is Muslim.

    That would be racist but let’s blame conservatives only. Get real, waste caused all this, Obama care is a means to tax us plan and simple, thanks to the Supreme Court. Obama will slow take take and take some more to fund this disaster. It called tax and spend, usually that was a republican theme but you democrats are taking the ball and running with it.

    December 22, 2013 at 1:08 am |
    • IB Smart DURRRR

      You and Rich Bucci are fine examples of the American education system. No wonder the rest of the world laughs at us. I hang my head in shame....

      December 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • bob@bob1213421.com

      what do I find objectionable in that statement? the lack of facts and total disconnect from reality.
      it takes only about 10 minutes of research to disprove the statement; proabably abot half a day to learn the actual facts of the law. no, name calling is not required, nor appropriate. but the repeated ignorance of those repeating myths and falsehoods about the ACA, 4 years later!, is extremely frustrating.
      And yes, it is racist.

      December 23, 2013 at 9:08 am |
      • Tracy Marshall

        Uh...let me get this straight. If I'm understanding you correctly, are you saying that if some criticizes ACA, they are racist?

        December 23, 2013 at 10:04 am |
        • Richard Bucci

          Like I said it's the blame game. Responsibility is a curse word to them. If it doesn't go their way, they cry racist. It always happens that way.. Sorry but it is your pattern. Obama is the worst., but if you go against him attack, attack attack. That's called deflection. But nothing will get done. The biggest problem is having all but 1 media news station in his pocket. The truth will never come out, till now. This BS OBAMA CARE effects everyone, it shows no mercy, it shows no mercy to democrats or republicans. If your hard working, your screwed or should I say taxed. When it hit the ones who voted for the jerk they will change the marching tunes.

          December 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Ali

        The value of Obamacare has yet to be seen and projections for cost, coverage, effectiveness, sustainability are all unknown – and to great degree 'hidden'. So far the indicators are not positive, but you can crow if you feel like it. However when others see you supporting something unproven, don't expect them to join in. It isn't personal – but thus far, there is just no reason to cheer.

        December 24, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  17. Eddie Fonseca

    As Americans when we look at good old Star and Strip flag which hangs on the flag pole in our front yard, and when we sing the National Anthem the Star Spangled Banner in our school and at the football game we feel a sense of pride in our great nation for the freedom and lifestyle that we can live free from racial and religious hatred. Yet when President Obama tries to introduce healthcare to all American's we feel a sense of relive that we do not have to pay for our son or daughter's cancer treatments and sell our homes and drain our bank accounts to pay for the treatments. Being an American who has seen our country's healthcare systems we are the only country that allows the health care professional to make a profit on sick people which is not right. As Americans we should be asking ourselves the tough question about health care in this great nation, if our son or daughter was dying of cancer would we have to sell our homes and drain our bank accounts to save them, or can we agree on having universal health care in America which pay's for our treatments and let's American's live two of three years longer in their lives for years to come.

    December 21, 2013 at 11:57 pm |
    • SlackerSlayer

      But ACA is the republicans parasite insurance co profit machine.

      December 24, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  18. OBD

    If the Pastors don't stand up for all then are they really Called of God. Men of God Jehovah need to be non partisan and stand up for this

    Philippians 4:5-95 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

    6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

    7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

    8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

    December 21, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  19. ja

    Money, money, money, It sounds like they worship money, not God.

    December 21, 2013 at 8:41 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.