FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A judge has ordered a Christians-only health care ministry, to cease operations in Kentucky unless it can get regulatory approval from the state Department of Insurance.

The ruling by Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate means Medi-Share, a Florida-based cost-sharing ministry, can no longer accept money or help pay medical bills for churchgoers in Kentucky.

Medi-Share resembles secular insurance, but only allows participation by people who pledge to live Christian lives that include no smoking, drinking, using drugs or engaging in sex outside of marriage. It serves nearly 40,000 people in 49 states, including 800 in Kentucky.

The Department of Insurance took the case to court because of concerns that Christians might mistakenly believe they're paying into an insurance plan that guarantees coverage if they're hospitalized.

Medi-Share offers no such guarantee, but says its participants are involved in a charitable endeavor to help cover medical bills of fellow Christians and potentially have their own expenses covered should the need arise.

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