Politics
US President Barack Obama announces that religious employers will not be mandated to offer free contraceptive coverage for workers at the White House in Washington, DC, February 10, 2012. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images) US President Barack Obama announces that religious employers will not be mandated to offer free contraceptive coverage for workers at the White House in Washington, DC, February 10, 2012. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)  

Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land: ‘How dumb does [Obama] think we are?’

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

Following the announced “accommodations” from the White House for religious organizations whose beliefs preclude them from offering birth control, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had some tough words for President Obama.

According to Land, the adjustment in the mandate requiring all employers — including religious organizations — to provide birth control is “a distinction without a difference.”

“My initial reaction is: How dumb does he think we are?” Land wondered in an interview with The Daily Caller. “Does he think when he puts lip stick on a pig, that we don’t understand that it is still a pig?”

“Let’s just take Southern Baptists, there are 16 million of us, almost all of us are covered by a self-funded insurance program called GuideStone,” he said noting that all kinds of people are insured through the program. “So when he says ‘well you don’t have to pay for it, your insurance company will,’ our insurance company is a Southern Baptist insurance company, it is self-funded through the domination, so it is totally unconscionable for them to provide abortifacients. We don’t have the same problems with contraception that the Catholics do, but we respect those concerns.”

Indeed, on Friday GuideStone issued a statement to that effect, saying in part that the changes to do not take into account self-funded church insurance programs like theirs.

“This self-funded approach to health care coverage, which is common among many historic and large church plans, was completely ignored by the President in his comments,” the group said in a statement.

Land added that there are numerous religious groups that have self-funded programs such as GuideStone. (RELATED: Full coverage of the health reform law)

“What this shows is the wisdom of our forefathers in having a legislative process where situations such as this is dealt with legislation, where there would be hearings and there would be testimony from these self-funded groups and all these groups would be heard and an acceptable compromise would be worked out,” he said, adding that edicts from the executive are bound to cause problems due to the lack of a full picture. “They never understand the complexities.”

Land said a more appropriate way to approach the issue would have been to adopt something akin to the Hawaii compromise where religious employers are exempt from the birth control requirement, but are required to tell employees how to access contraceptives. However, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops also objects this approach.

“I know it was presented to the president initially and he rejected it and the reason he rejected it is because he wants all women in America to have free abortion services and free sterilization services, and free birth control services,” he said.

“This is part of a disturbing trend in this administration that whenever religious freedoms collide with supposed sexual freedoms, sexual freedoms prevail and religious freedoms suffer,” he added.

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