A group of clergy leaders recently sent a letter to Gov. Mary Fallin and the state Legislature in which they shared their support for Fallin's rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid.
The Rev. Paul Blair, senior pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, said he drafted the letter and sent it to Fallin's office April 26 after reading an April 26 news story in The Oklahoman about religious leaders who sent the governor a letter asking her to reconsider refusing the federal funding.
“Stand strong on this issue Gov. Fallin. Just say no,” the letter from Blair's group stated.
Representatives with the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, an ecumenical Christian faith organization made up of 16 religious faith groups, held a news conference at the state Capitol to say they sent a pastoral letter of concern to Fallin in response to her 2012 decision to reject Medicaid expansion funding through the federal Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare.
The Oklahoma Conference of Churches group urged elected leaders to look beyond politics to consider the moral consequences of the decision.
Recently, Blair said he wanted the governor and legislators to know that numerous clergy leaders support the choice to reject the federal funding.
“We are overspending by a trillion dollars while there are some that believe that it's the government's responsibility to provide for a welfare state,” Blair said. “We are saddling our children and grandchildren with a debt they won't ever be able to repay.”
State Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon, said he signed the letter as the longtime senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Yukon.
“I believe that it is a biblical principal to live within your means,” Fisher said. “In my opinion, America has simply overreached its ability to pay.”
Fisher said he wants to help the indigent as well as any other religious leader.
“It's not that I don't care about people in plight and in need, but just because government can do something doesn't mean it should,” he said.
Another clergy leader who agreed to have his name listed on the letter was the Rev. Steve Kern, senior pastor of Olivet Baptist Church. He said the Affordable Care Act is an example of overreach by the federal government.
“I just really believe the federal government is getting more out of control as far as taking away the rights of the states and individuals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Blair said each of the pastors and leaders who agreed to have their names linked to the letter did so without hesitation. He said it is important to note that the letter is backed by men affiliated with different denominations.
The letter is signed by: Blair, Fisher, Kern and the Rev. Ron Lindsey, Suburban Baptist Church; the Rev. Tom Vineyard, Windsor Hills Baptist; the Rev. Mateen Elass, First Presbyterian Church Edmond; Perry Greene, South Yukon Church of Christ; the Rev. James Taylor, University Christian Church of Norman; the Rev. Stephen Lopp, First Baptist Church of Jones; John Merrill, Christian Heritage Academy; the Rev. Jerry Pitts, First Christian Church of Jones; the Rev. Brian Harris, Pine Acres Church of Weatherford; the Rev. Bruce Proctor; the Rev. George Samkutty; the Rev. Randy Perry; the Rev. Ken Smith, Sunnyside Baptist Church of Oklahoma City; and the Rev. Danny Gandara, First Baptist Church of Fort Gibson.
Others are: the Rev. Bruce Delay, Heartland Church of Broken Arrow; the Rev. Alan Connor, Northwest Bible Church of Oklahoma City; the Rev. Jason Murray, Draper Park Christian Church; the Rev. Steven Meier, Gospel Light Baptist Church, Enid; the Rev. Mark McAdow, First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City; the Rev. Donnie Edmondson, Virginia Avenue Baptist Church, Anadarko; and the Rev. Chris Reding, Community of Faith Fellowship, Stillwater.
Also: the Rev. Ed White; Paul Wahrenberg; the Rev. Kevin Clarkson, First Baptist Church of Moore; the Rev. Rod Rieger, Newcastle Christian Church; the Rev. Chilles Hutchinson, Tri-City Worship Center; and the Rev. Rusty Canoy, First Baptist Church of Lexington.