Evangelical Group Joins Religious Organizations Opposing 'Obamacare'

An evangelical financial services organization has announced that it opposes President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, and the contraception mandate recently issued by the Department of Health and Human Services.

GuideStone Financial Resources, the Dallas-based organization that serves as the benefits board for the Southern Baptist Convention, released a statement on Monday declaring its opposition to what it calls "any governmental intrusion on the ability of church health plans to reflect fundamental and long held religious convictions."

"This encroachment on religious freedom is blatant and outrageous and should be taken seriously by those of us who are part of the body of believers, as well as by others who respect and regard this nation's history and constitutional foundation," said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins in the statement.

"GuideStone is honored to join with our friends at The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and all of our other Southern Baptist Convention entities to advocate on behalf of those organizations and individuals we are so privileged to serve."

According to the HHS Department, in August 2011 the department issued an "interim final rule" which stated that most health care plans must provide coverage of contraceptive services for female employees. The initial rule exempted religious employers.

However, on Jan. 20 HHS announced that nonprofits and religious employers must also provide coverage for contraceptive services, narrowing the exemption to churches and other worship bodies.

"Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law," said an HHS press release.

"This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty. I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services."

GuideStone is the latest religious organization to oppose the new health care rules being advanced by HHS and the Obama administration. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been adamantly opposed to the new rules.

Last week, the USCCB criticized a blog response issued by the White House regarding the backlash by several religious groups and charities over the new rules.

"To be eligible, even churches and houses of worship must show the government that they hire and serve primarily people of their own faith and have the inculcation of religious values as their purpose," said USCCB in a statement.

"Such churches would be denied an exemption precisely because their service to the common good is so great. More importantly, the vast array of other religious organizations – schools, hospitals, universities, charitable institutions – will clearly not be exempt."

Currently, President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, also called "Obamacare," is being legally challenged by several states' attorney generals and will likely have its constitutionality decided by the United States Supreme Court.

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