November 7 2013
Patrice J. Lee
A pastor in Mississippi banned fried chicken from all church events in an effort to get his congregation to eat healthier. It is part of his anti-obesity campaign, but the pastor’s initiative has also become a gateway into peddling ObamaCare to the uninsured in Mississippi.
Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church pastor Michael Minor—who says fried chicken has mysterious powers because you can’t just eat one piece—banned fried chicken at church dinners along with sugary drinks. He also placed a walking track around his church.
A recent piece in Reuters explains more about Minor’s mission:
In the foyer of Oak Hill Baptist hangs a picture of Minor and his wife, Lottie, in the White House, a proud reminder of the heights this tiny church of 100 or so has already reached under his leadership. His efforts caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama, who in 2009 invited Minor to help promote her "Let's Move" anti-obesity campaign and has invited him to the White House on several occasions.
In the church kitchen hangs a plaque reminding the congregation that it is a "No Fry Zone," a sign of the church's commitment to offer healthier fare at church gatherings.
"It's a symbol, especially with people of color," Minor said of the ban on fried chicken. "You've got to rally around symbols."
You may think, “What’s the big deal? A no-fry-zone sign and a walking track around the church are good ideas. “
First, although it’s grabbing headlines right now, it isn’t a recent move. Minor’s chicken ban goes back several years. But it’s great for headlines and puts a positive spin on how community organizing can be used to push an agenda including ObamaCare.
Michael Minor isn’t simply a Baptist preacher. This Harvard-educated minister is part of a network of community organizers who are tight with Administration officials. He’s met with the officials at HHS and other health officials in the Administration at least as far back as late 2009 on health initiatives. His efforts caught little national attention when he first announced it, but now they are becoming an integral part of the Administration’s PR machine. Not only has he been propelled to a national spotlight but he’s also become a key figure in ObamaCare outreach.
Minor has taken a leading role in pushing ObamaCare in Mississippi. His church is one of just two organizations in the state to get a navigator grant to sign people up for ObamaCare. He’s been busy setting up a network of religious leaders to advance enrollment. Reuters explains:
To stretch his $317,742 grant, Minor joined forces with Cover Mississippi, a network of consumer and patient advocacy groups and community health centers organized by the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program.
So Minor has spent the past three weeks patching together a network of patient advocacy groups and church volunteers, who have gone through the needed 20 hours of navigator training, with the blessing of the Department of Health and Human Services.
He is also tapping into the network of some 20 community health centers and organizations that shared nearly $2.5 million in federal grants to become certified application counselors - trained individuals stationed in health centers that can offer face-to-face enrollment assistance.
As of last week, Minor and his coalition partners had built a network of 75 to 100 navigators and counselors.
Minor is proving to be a heavyweight in the religious community and gaining the White House seal of approval. Last year, the National Baptist Convention, which represents at least seven million people in nearly 10,000 churches, ramped up a far-reaching health campaign devised by Minor to raise up a “health ambassador” in every member church by September 2012. These very same health ambassadors can be– and likely have been-trained as ObamaCare counselors. It’s community organizing at its best.
I hope my church leaders aren’t inspired to ban fried chicken at our gatherings, but that’s ancillary to the bigger concern of how this network of religious leaders is being used to advance ObamaCare.