Why Baptists stand with Catholics on birth control mandate

We acknowledge that Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists have differing views on how we understand and practice our faith, stemming … Continued

We acknowledge that Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists have differing views on how we understand and practice our faith, stemming from our differing concepts of what we view as our supreme authority. For Southern Baptists, authority is in Scripture alone. For Catholics, authority is in Scripture and the church.

For example, most Baptists have a different perspective than do Catholics on the use of contraceptives by a married couple, because we believe Scripture does not condemn it, yet we hold an almost identical perspective on abortion because of the Bible’s clear teaching on the sanctity of every human life.

Despite our theological differences, we cannot remain silent while others find their First Amendment freedom of religion rights trampled.

As Baptists we defend Catholics’ right to not have their consciences coerced by government edict on the issue of contraception.

In the Manhattan Declaration (2009), Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians proclaimed, “Christians confess that God alone is Lord of the conscience. Immunity from religious coercion is the cornerstone of an unconstrained conscience.”

Pope John Paul II wrote that religious freedom is the “first freedom.” It is, he continued, “the premise and guarantee of all freedoms that ensure the common good.”

There are areas of our lives in which we are to submit to the state and there are areas, clearly delineated by our faith, in which the state must not intrude. As Christ Himself said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s (Mark 12:17).

As Americans–Catholics and Baptists alike–we are in absolute agreement on the inviolable freedom of conscience, a right recognized and guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution to every American citizen.

It is difficult to comprehend why the Obama administration would so excessively overreach in their January 20 mandate that health insurance plans for Catholic and other faith-based hospitals and charities, etc., must subsidize coverage for contraceptives as preventive services. In light of the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (2012) that the government telling a religious group who they can hire or fire is clearly in violation of the First Amendment, it is amazing they would engage in such government overreach once again.

The president’s “compromise” 21 days later revealed the White House’s basic lack of understanding by thinking this issue could be solved simply by word games or accounting tricks. Moreover, it ignores the needs of many of the oldest and largest church insurance plans in the nation. GuideStone, the provider of insurance for many Southern Baptists, is self-funded, which means it pays benefits directly instead of using a third-party insurance company. In the name of religious freedom, it cannot be forced by the government to provide services contrary to its religious convictions.

The federal government’s decision is a flagrant violation of the First Amendment’s free exercise clause protections enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

This mandate by the executive branch is less about birth control, abortion or the Catholic Church than it is about the government attempting to compel people to subsidize and pay for that which they find unconscionable.

Thomas Jefferson understood the impropriety of requiring citizens to involuntarily fund activities they find morally repugnant. In the draft of the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom (1779), Jefferson wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.”

The Obama administration’s mandate on contraception coverage is a blatant and outrageous encroachment on religious freedom.

We urge Americans of all faiths (and no faith) to call upon the Obama administration to rescind this order, which is a gross violation of the First Amendment. We encourage you to contact your U.S. senators and your congressman, urging them to press the White House to reverse this decision and to support legislation that would undo this unwarranted government overreach.

Bryant Wright, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Senior Pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church

Richard Land, President, The Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

O. S. Hawkins, President/CEO, GuideStone Financial Resources, Southern Baptist Convention

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  • ccnl1

    Only for the newbies:

    Why the Christian Right (i.e. Southern Baptists et al) no longer matters in presidential elections:

    Once again, all the conservative votes in the country “ain’t” going to help a “pro-life” presidential candidate, i.e Mitt Romney, Newton Leroy Gingrich, Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, in 2012 as the “Immoral Majority” rules the country and will be doing so for awhile. The “Immoral Majority” you ask?

    The fastest growing USA voting bloc: In 2008, the 70+ million “Roe vs. Wade mothers and fathers” of aborted womb-babies” whose ranks grow by two million per year i.e. 78+ million “IM” voters in 2012.

    2008 Presidential popular vote results:

    69,456,897 for pro-abortion/choice BO, 59,934,814 for “pro-life” JM.

    And the irony:

    And all because many women fail to take the Pill once a day or men fail to use a condom even though in most cases these men have them in their pockets. (maybe they should be called the “Stupid Majority”?)

    The failures of the widely used birth “control” methods i.e. the Pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions ( one million/yr) and STDs (19 million/yr) in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or condoms properly and/or use other safer birth control methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and STDs.

  • david6

    Since you are big fans of the sanctity of human life, when did you condemn capital punishment?

    As far as the question that you claim to be addressing, you are flat out wrong and misleading. This has nothing to do with religious rights, it has to do with the duty of enterprises to their employees. Hospitals and universities are not churches. You know that, yet you misleadingly claim otherwise. How shameful.

  • Secular1

    I wonder if these three clowns would take up the brief now for FLDS? You know those loonies who believe in polygamy. By the way it is also sanctioned in their musty old tome, written by the bigited ignorant ancients. All these three cannk ot get over the fact that Obama is a black man sitting in their White House. If i were to meet any of these three pondcum and shake hands with them for courtsey, I would later on have to wash my hand with Aqu-Regia to get rid of all the filth that would have rubbed off on me.

  • cricket44

    Pure bunk, jean. Hysterical bunk.

  • dcooper4

    It’s all lip service. If you are truly PRO LIFE, then what you need to do is repeal Roe vs. Wade. Ron Paul would give that authority back to the states to decide, that would repeal Roe vs. Wade immediately.
    The federal government unconstitutionally over extending its authority would be over.
    The United States Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade would be considered an unconstitutional delegation of power over the States and therefore repealed. (NO JURISDICTION)
    This whole argument over contraceptives is really quite annoying and misses the biggest issue of PRO LIFE. Let your own State decide on the right to life issue, because you will never reverse the Roe vs. Wade decision in the United States Supreme Court. All these issues should be decided on the state level, not the federal level.

  • dcooper4

    · Executive Order 11110 was issued by U.S. President John F. Kennedy on June 4, 1963.

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963,

    On June 4, 1963, a little known attempt was made to strip the Federal Reserve Bank of its power to loan money to the government at interest. On that day President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order No. 11110 that returned to the U.S. government the power to issue currency, without going through the Federal Reserve. Mr. Kennedy’s order gave the Treasury the power “to issue silver certificates against any silver bullion, silver, or standard silver dollars in the Treasury.” This meant that for every ounce of silver in the U.S. Treasury’s vault, the government could introduce new money into circulation. In all, Kennedy brought nearly $4.3 billion in U.S. notes into circulation. The ramifications of this bill are enormous.
    With the stroke of a pen, Mr. Kennedy was on his way to putting the Federal Reserve Bank of New York out of business. If enough of these silver certificats were to come into circulation they would have eliminated the demand for Federal Reserve notes. This is because the silver certificates are backed by silver and the Federal Reserve notes are not backed by anything. Executive Order 11110 could have prevented the national debt from reaching its current level, because it would have given the government the ability to repay its debt without going to the Federal Reserve and being charged interest in order to create the new money. Executive Order 11110 gave the U.S. the ability to create its own money backed by silver.
    After Mr. Kennedy was assassinated just five months later, no more silver certificates were issued.

  • Americacares

    98 percent of Catholics use Birth Control, My Babtist friends all use Birth Control…..the out dated Bishops and Clergy haven’t a clue. What next…any Male with a vasectomy be put on trial? Excomunicated….What Idiots!

  • amelia45

    What you are allowing is the Catholic Church to decide that the Baptist doctor who works for them must abide in his professional and person life by tenets of Catholic faith.

    Religious freedom is important to all of us. But it must be defended as a personal right, not an institutional right. Our country was set up deliberately with a secular government. “Secular” is not a dirty word – study history again if you want to see what happened in the early years of settlement of this country when a religious group was given civil power. It was not pretty.

    So our founders made sure the government was secular – and that it could not create laws that favor any religion or establish a religion. The decisions the president made in the health insurace regulations continued a practice that was already established in most states, was based on the best medical advice he could receive, included a form of health care that is overwhelmingly chosen by women – what else should such a decision be based on. We woudl have chaos if federal or state regulators based minimum standards of health care in accommodation to all religious beliefs. The government acted in a secular fashion because it is supposed to!!!!!

    If a religion is legally empowered within the general society to coerce or require that an otherwise free citizen comply with the tenets of that faith, the religion has been “established” in power over that person. Think very carefully about that. The establishment of religion does not have to mean that a legislature declares the beliefs of a particular religion to be the state religion. It does not mean that the majority of people decide that a particular faith is the faith of the state. Establishment occurs when a religion is given power over others.

    When a religious group is given power now it is a carefully delineated group to whom that power is given – a church, synagogue, a parish office, a seminary, a local religious school that teaches children about that religion. The

  • slowe111

    re: It is difficult to comprehend why the Obama administration would so excessively overreach in their January 20 mandate that health insurance plans for Catholic and other faith-based hospitals and charities, etc., must subsidize coverage for contraceptives as preventive services

    BECAUSE: these institutions are acting as secular institutions – receiving government revenues or payments and MUST comply with the standards of our secular government and institutions. They serve the public at large – not just Catholics – they are infact parred from denying service to anyone who walks through their doors. They are NOT religious institutions per the seperation of church and state principle. If they want to convert to priviate / membership only institutions they can impose their religious constrictions on others, but until then, they must comply with our secular laws and the constitution.

  • slowe111

    Where is the voice of and advocates for the employees of these Universities and hospitals – who are non-Catholic? Why should they be denied access to health options becasue of the strictly religions reasons of the employer. The employer must comply with all others labor laws, OSHA, etcs. If they are going to exist as an institution in our civil, secular government, then they must comply wity its laws. Otherwise they should stop accepting government subsidies, payments, support, etc. and become private, membership organizations and limit their clients to their own, religious kind. They are NOT churches. They have crossed over into the secular domain and need to accept the consiquences of operations in that arena. Otherwise, this is an intrusion of religion into public life. The rights of the employees of these institutions need to be protected from religious bigotry.

  • amelia45

    A Catholic hospital is not a “religious group.” It is a group of medical professionals and support staff who joined together to deliver health care. They did not join together to worship together. By working for a Catholic hospital, the Baptist doctor, nurse, and billing clerk are not professing the Catholic faith.

    The exceptions in the HHS regulations that recognize a religious group do protect a “religious group.” That is, a group who come together to learn about and practice their faith. This includes ministries, churches, synagogues, the local christian school. But it does not include hospitals and large universities that, even though sponsored by a Christian organization, nevertheless hire people of all faiths, do not require that those who work there study the Catholic religion, and who treat people of all faiths.

    The HHS regulations protect the faith of each person rather than protecting only the faith of the business owner. Even worse is the idea that a business owner would have the legal right to coerce or require that those who work for him must abide by the tenets of his faith. That is the worst sort of class warfare.

    In the Catholic faith there is no such thing as a “group” conscience. Conscience is the individual’s final and supreme arbitor of what is good and what is evil. In this country, I thought we also believed in individual religious freedom. Seems that the Catholics and now the Baptists don’t really believe in either.

  • Catken1

    If you are truly PRO LIFE, then you ought to respect the human lives of your mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and all other women, and give them the same rights you have to control who may or may not inhabit their bodies and use their personal internal organs.
    But of course, most people who claim they are pro-life are willing to treat half the human lives on this planet as though they were subhuman property, to be used until they break without concern for their consent or wishes or feelings or capacity for any contribution to the world other than that of incubating machine, and then discarded.

  • Catken1

    JeanRyan – Human is human. Women are human. If the government can force women to carry a child inside their body against her will, and allow it to use her internal organs and physical resources regardless of her wishes or what happens to her as a result, then government can force women to have an abortion.
    If you don’t want government to tell you if your child can live or die, work for the rights of your sisters to manage their own bodies and determine when and how they will give them over for childbearing.

  • avidwp

    Dear Mr. Wright, Mr. Lands, and Mr. Hawkins,

    Can we stop deifying our founding fathers? 4 of the first 5 presidents owned slaves. In my view democracy has only worked for the last 47 years, since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. I guess when people quote people from those centuries, they want to revert back to the time where the only people who could vote were propertied white men.

    Get a woman on your authorial team if youre going to talk about contraception. Also, do you truly believe, as a conservative mandate, that no one should be able to tell you what to do? If so, I would applaud your reversal on gay marriage. After all, no one should be able to tell these people what to do.

  • NativeSonKY

    I am a Christian, a Baptist from Kentucky. My mother and father were divorced when I was 6 months old, in 1959. My father went on to marry a Catholic woman and converted to her faith, since he had never really been exposed to God or the Bible in his life growing up. So, I have half brothers and sisters who are Catholic and whom I love dearly and would help and protect them to my dying breath. I also stood with my step mother outside Kaiser Permanente hospital in 1973 at a candlelight vigil again abortion.

    When I was older and had strayed from God, my girlfriend got pregnant, and she was bombarded by everyone in her family to get an abortion. This made it a personal issue with me. We had a family meeting (her family only) and they tried to convince us to go ahead with the abortion. I stopped that meeting dead cold; I told every one of them that if they had anything to do with our child being aborted, I would hunt down the offending party who drove her to get the abortion and I would kill them the same as they killed my child. And I meant every word of it. I would gladly sit in a prison cell the rest of my life or be killed myself defending one of my children,

    Now, here’s the rub. That’s how I feel against abortion when it comes to me, because of my upbringing. It’s just not for me. But I cannot, and would not, dictate to anyone what they can do. We are given free will by God for a reason; so we can’t blame anyone else. I am also not going to judge anyone, ever, for anything they do, because judgment is reserved for God alone. Now let me get to what I must get off my chest.

    I do not align myself with ANY organized religion. My faith is based solely on Jesus Christ and his relationship to God Almighty. I feel the leaders of ALL organized religions are phonies and fakes. ALL of them live a lavish lifestyle and are “respected” men and women. Really? You expect me to believe that you have any Christian INTENT in ANY of this? I think not. You do it because you can puff up you

  • NativeSonKY

    LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME AND MY BLOG! – sorry, but the people who self-identify as “Patriotic Christians” and who have to bash everyone and everything get no respect except from those of their own ilk.

    Self-promotion is PRIDE and is one of the deadly sins. Learn the basics of being a Christian; as Jesus said, remove the plank in your own eye before you tell your brother of the spek in his.

  • NativeSonKY

    Ron Paul would kill millions of America’s poor children by sending them off to war. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth. How can a well give both good water and sour water? Ron Paul is NOT pro-life. He is pro-war and pro-Ron Paul. That is all.