CNN has blamed Christians for the problem of Americans without health insurance, calling it “The Obamacare ‘scandal’ you haven’t heard about.” In an article on CNN.com’s Belief Blog, CNN writer John Blake says that, while famous pastors “preach in states where crosses and church steeples dot the skyline,” they do nothing about “the poor who can’t get the health insurance they would receive if they lived elsewhere.”
That refers, in turn, to the decision of twenty-five states not to participate in Obamacare’s expanded Medicaid funding. The states were allowed to opt out following last year’s controversial Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, which upheld the law as a whole but struck down the mandatory state participation in Medicaid expansion, citing the protection provided to state powers under the Tenth Amendment.
Some Republican states took the funding anyway, which provides health insurance subsidies for households with incomes up to 138% of the poverty level. Though the federal government will initially cover almost all of the cost, many Republican governors are wary of potential future costs, and are also worried about the effect on the federal budget itself. Many are also opposed to participating in the Obamacare program on principle.
CNN seems to think that the choice to opt out of Obamacare is somehow the responsibility of well-known pastors such as Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, who declined to comment for Blake’s article. One minister, Rev. Phil Wages, said he would not preach that states should accept Medicaid funding because he does not believe that care for the poor is the primary responsibility of the government, according to Christian teachings.
Beyond that, most churches are non-profit organizations whose tax-exempt status might be threatened if they became involved in political causes. Blake recognizes that, but strongly suggests that churches have a duty regardless. (Curiously, he does not suggest that churches should preach against Obamacare because of the millions of families that are losing their health insurance plans, contrary to the president’s promises.)
Blake covers different perspectives on the question of speaking out. But the premise of CNN’s article is that churches are to blame for Obamacare’s failures–not the federal government, not the Democrats who passed it, and not President Barack Obama himself. The thinly-veiled implication–a repeated theme in leftist critiques–is that Christians are hypocrites who care about personal salvation, but not about good works.