O. S. Hawkins, the President of GuideStone Financial Resources, says that President Obama’s statement on the new healthcare law excludes the Southern Baptist Convention. The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and its financial arm provides health insurance to about 60,000 people, including pastors and missionaries (source). Here’s the statement from GuideStone:
Response to President Obama’s Statement on February 10, 2012
GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of the largest church plans in the nation, was distressed to hear that the President’s comments do not take into account the needs of many of the oldest and largest church plans in the nation. GuideStone’s medical plan, like that of many other established church plans, is self-funded, which means it pays benefits directly instead of using a third-party insurance company as the source of benefit payments. This self-funded approach to healthcare coverage, which is common among many historic and large church plans, was completely ignored by the President in his comments.
The comments today appear to reflect a narrow and inadequate approach that does not address the issues at hand for Southern Baptists who oppose so-called contraceptives that can and do cause an abortion. Even more troubling is that the broader issue of religious freedom was only given lip service but no serious consideration in the President’s remarks.
As stated by GuideStone’s President O.S. Hawkins, “The President’s statement today is an insulting affront illustrating a basic lack of understanding that this issue will not be solved by sleight-of-hand word games. It is a fundamental matter of religious liberty that threatens the very coverage of those dedicated persons who serve our churches and affiliated organizations. GuideStone will never depart from the core convictions it has held dear for decades regarding the sanctity of life.”