Black Pastors Criticized for Endorsing Obama Health Care Plan

A group of black pro-life ministers were blasted by fellow pastors Monday for endorsing President Obama's plan to reform the health care system.

In a statement distributed to various news outlets, the black pastors expressed their "outrage" over last week's endorsement by ministers in the historically black Church of God in Christ (COGIC), who they criticized for "merely parroting" Obama's claim that federal funding of abortion is not included in his health care plan, rather than reading and evaluating for themselves the legislation he is pushing.

"If unborn children cannot depend on the Church to carefully examine this bill to see if their lives will be protected from state-funded genocide, on whom can they depend?" said the church leaders.

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Signers of the statement included Dr. Johnny Hunter of L.E.A.R.N. (Life Education and Resource Network), the Rev. Walter B. Hope of Issues4Life Foundation, Dr. Levon R. Yuille of National Black Pro-Life Congress, and Pastor Stephen E. Broden of Fair Park Bible Fellowship in Dallas, among others.

Monday's statement was in direct response to the actions of Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., head of the six-million-member Church of God in Christ, who last week led a group of black ministers in endorsing the president's embattled health care reform plan.

Though Blake had carefully addressed the issue of abortion funding in the plan by echoing Obama's statement that no tax dollars will fund the procedure, a number of public policy experts have noted that such a plan remains to be seen.

Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission noted earlier this month that the features Obama has described in "my plan" and "my health care proposal" do not exist in any of the bills Congress is working on.

"I don't know what plan the president is talking about," Duke wrote in a column following Obama's address to Congress. "They (the features) aren't in the liberal Democrats' bills. They aren't in any bill from the Blue Dog Democrats, who haven't written one. They aren't in the Republicans' bills, and there are at least five that Republicans are trying to get people to notice."

In the statement Monday, the black leaders encouraged COGIC leaders to read and evaluate the president's plan, including the Capps-Waxman Amendment, rather than "merely parroting his words."

"We recommend in the strongest terms possible that this endorsement be withdrawn until such time that the Obama administration adds language to the health care proposal that specifically prohibits taxpayer funded abortions," they concluded.

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion and an average of 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States

Notably, Blake and the other ministers who endorsed the health care bill are against abortion and are considered social conservatives.

With a membership of over five million, COGIC is the largest African-American and largest Pentecostal church body in the United States. Internationally, the denomination has up to seven million members.

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