I wish Rev. Bryant Wright was as concerned about Georgia's poor as he is about foreign refugees entering the state.
"(W)e support refugees because of our faith, knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ compels us to love the foreigner, even those who come from cultures and religions that may be very different than our own," said Wright in a recent MDJ guest op-ed.
The Gospels also compel us to love the poor and the sick in our backyard.
So why aren't Rev. Wright and other Cobb County Christian leaders demanding Gov. Nathan Deal expand Medicaid to cover Georgia's 650,000 uninsured? Their voices, joined by other Christian leaders around Georgia, would undoubtedly force Deal and the state legislature to accept Medicaid expansion under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
"These are not numbers," said Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor Raphael Warnock. "These are our neighbors."
Warnock was among the Moral Monday Georgia protesters at the state capital Monday, there to demand the Senate not pass House Bill 707, which would prevent any state official from implementing Obamacare.
I have asked a number of local Christian ministers, including Rev. Wright, why they remain silent on Medicaid expansion, a program that would help so many people with so little effort. Rev. Wright didn't respond to my e-mail, and the only minister who did told me Christ's admonition to care for the sick and poor didn't mean governments should help.
This is why I don't worship at a church. The hypocrisy of this crowd is simply too profound.
Rather than offend the Obama-hating right wingers in their pews, Rev. Wright and the others point at their various charitable ministries with smug satisfaction as if all of these charities combined could come close to meeting the needs of Georgia's poor and sick.
If they went public and insisted Medicaid be expanded, these ministers and pastors know they might be looking at fewer faces next Sunday when they preach; that the collection plates might be a little less full.
And that appears to be more important than taking a moral stand like Pastor Warnock.
"(N)early all funding allocated for refugee programs is direct federal funding, some of which flows through the state of Georgia, sometimes creating the mistaken impression that Georgia tax dollars fund these programs," Wright says.
Well, guess what, Reverend? Those 650,000 poor and sick Georgians - many of them children - would receive preventative and critical healthcare, the cost of which would be borne by the federal government in the first three years and 90 percent thereafter. States can opt out if the feds don't meet their obligation.
In addition, a study conducted by the state's leading healthcare economist, Dr. Bill Custer, says expansion would create 70,000 good paying healthcare industry jobs in a state with 7.3 percent unemployment.
"Annually these additional jobs would add an average $8.2 billion to statewide economic output. This additional economic activity would generate increased state and local tax revenue, which was estimated to be on average $276.5 million annually," says Custer.
Meantime, Georgia's federal tax dollars are making a one-way trip to pay for Medicaid expansion in states like New York, California and Illinois. If for no other reason, it simply makes economic sense to get some of our dollars back here to Georgia.
Even ultra-conservative Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sees the wisdom of expanding Medicaid in her state.
"I encourage anyone who is skeptical of this program to get to know these (refugees) and welcome our new neighbors. There is a very good chance you will be blessed if you do," Rev. Wright concludes.
The very same thing can be said for Georgia's poor, Reverend Wright.