In our Easter Sunday conversation for “This Week,” Pastor Rick Warren told me why he believes the Obama administration is on the wrong side of the recent contraception debate.
TAPPER: You’ve written about this, especially on Twitter…a great deal when it comes to the Obama administration’s health care ruling when it pertains to contraception. You objected to that initially. They dialed it back. How are you with what they called an accommodation? Were you okay with that? Or no?
WARREN: Well, no, I’m not, because in the first place, there is a redefinition from freedom of religion to phrases — now you hear people talking about freedom of worship. That means its limiting what the church does to only what happens in the one hour on Sunday morning as worship. In other words, if I have a school, which is part of my commission as a church, education, or if I had a clinic which is part of my — the Bible says Jesus went into every village, preaching, teaching, and healing. He didn’t just care about the spirit. He cared about the mind and the body, and you go into almost any country, the first school and the first hospital were founded by the missionaries, almost every country in the world. You go to Africa, 25 percent of the health care is done by Catholics.
WARREN: Now people are starting to frame this as women’s health issue. I’m 100 percent in favor of women’s health, obviously. But the issue here is not about women’s health. There is a greater principle, and that is do you have a right to decide what your faith practices? I would be just as opposed to someone making a law that says every Jewish deli now has to serve pork. Well, I would be — I would protest that. Why? There are 100 other delis you can get pork at. Why do I have to insist that the Jewish delis also serve pork? There’s plenty of places to get contraceptives.
WARREN: Now I don’t have a problem with contraceptives. I’m a Protestant. I’m an evangelical. But I do support my Catholic brothers and sisters to believe what they want to believe. And I would support my Jewish brothers and sisters to believe what they want to believe, and say if you say we don’t eat pork, we don’t want to serve it in our deli, then you shouldn’t have to serve it in your deli, because there’s plenty of other places to get pork.
TAPPER: But as far as you’re concerned, does that — you think that should apply beyond houses of worship, but houses of worship are already exempt?
WARREN: The Constitution says freedom of religion, not just freedom of worship. And churches, synagogues, mosques do far more than worship. In fact, if you took out all of the social services that it provided by Christian churches, and for that matter synagogues and mosques, too, America would go bankrupt in about six months, because the vast amount of social services, the free clinics and the feeding the poor and caring for the sick and educating the next generation is done a lot by these religious organizations. And they should not have to say, well, I have to put my religion on the shelf to care for people.
TAPPER: So you believe that this should also apply to — this exemption should apply to religious schools — religious charities…
WARREN: I do…
TAPPER: But just to clarify, the accommodation, as the administration calls it, doesn’t require the Catholic charities or the Jewish schools or the Protestant –
WARREN: So here’s the dirty little secret about that. It says we’re going to put it onto the insurers –
TAPPER: Right. Insurance companies have to –
WARREN: Most or many religious organizations insure themselves. We insure ourselves here at Saddleback Church. I have 350 staff. We have a self-insurance program, where we do our own insurance. So we’re basically robbing from ourselves to pay for ourselves.
TAPPER: But weren’t you already required to do this under California law?
WARREN: That’s not the issue. The issue is on a national level, on a national level, to start limiting churches and their organizations, the church and organizations — or any organizations, whether it’s Christian or not, in what they believe that that limits what they do with their school or their health care, that is a violation of the First Amendment, in my opinion.