Several Oklahoma leaders of Christian nonprofits said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the new Health and Human Services mandate opt-out options proffered by the Obama administration on Friday.
However, they said they are troubled that the new options will not help for-profit businesses like Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby nor do the new choices address what they see as the government's trampling over their civil rights.
“This latest move by the administration shows the impact that citizens of faith are having,” the Rev. Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said Friday.
“Therefore we should redouble our efforts toward the goal of a complete restoration of religious liberty and not be satisfied with its mere shadow.”
The convention — representing the state's Southern Baptists — had expressed concerns about the mandate through a resolution asking President Barack Obama to withdraw the mandate entirely.
The resolution was approved in November 2012 by delegates at the convention's annual meeting.
A representative of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said the faith group's leaders had not had time to analyze the new options.
However, Patrick Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City, said though he also had not read the “fine print” of the HHS amendment, he was pleased that concessions were being made for those organizations like his own that object to paying for contraception and abortion-inducing drugs for employees.
“The potential was we'd have to choose between not providing health care for our employees or providing health care for our employees that violates our tenets. It should have never happened in the first place,” Raglow said.
Loren Gresham, president of Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, said he was cautiously optimistic about the effect the new opt-out options will have on schools like SNU and other religious nonprofits. He said he remains concerned about Hobby Lobby's battle against the government-imposed mandate.