Baptist ethicist “clarifies” apology to ADL over Holocaust comparisons

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

This is just unbelievable. Well, maybe not.


Last week, the Political Insider reported that Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,  had apologized to the Anti-Defamation League for saying the Obama administration’s health proposals resemble Nazi policies toward the elderly.


Well, it turns out he’s not really sorry, if the “clarification” printed in the Baptist Press last week is a guide. (Kudos to The Debate Link blog for a good catch on this one).


“Land told Baptist Press that despite Foxman’s desire, as outlined in an ADL press release, that the ‘use of Nazi analogies will cease,’ he has no plans to stop pointing out where the reasoning behind health care reform proposals intersect the ideologies held by those in history who failed to appreciate the preciousness of all human life,” according to the church-sponsored news service.


The Baptist Press said Land has been “sensitized to use far more care in [his] descriptive language,” but “still believes there are connections to be made between some underlying philosophies held by the Germans and others in the first half of the 20th century, and certain elements under discussion in the health care reform debate today.”


Then the heart of the “clarification”:  “In noting he had previously used ‘imprecise language,’  Land said he should have said some of the philosophies that are being espoused ‘bear a lethal similarity in their attitudes toward the elderly and the terminally ill and could ultimately lead to the kinds of things the Nazis did.’”


Well, at least there’s this: Land expressed regret for comparing Obama administration health reform advisers with the infamous Dr. Mengele, explaining he was using “hyperbole for effect.”


And this guy is supposed to be one of Christendom’s great ethical thinkers?


Finally, the Baptist Press story says Land “said he has a deep affection for the Jewish people and the state of Israel, and added that the Holocaust was a ‘horrific event that reminds us of man’s inhumanity to man.’”


Thanks a lot.


A few sentences later, the story relates that he harshly criticized a writer on a Baptist Center for Ethics website who wrote that “To evoke images of Hitler or the Holocaust to thwart health-care reform is a brutal insult both to the victims and survivors of that Holocaust. We must proclaim as widely as possible that the term ‘Nazism’ and images of the swastika have nothing to do with the issues at hand. Any such comparisons are false and are intended only to frighten and confuse people.”


Land doesn’t like that one bit. So we’re back to square one: he believes it’s legitimate to talk about aleged connections  between current health reform proposals and Nazi policies on things like euthanasia.


It’s sad and a little frightening that this is what the debate over health insurance reform has come down to: if you disagree with me, you’re supporting Nazi-like policies.  And it’s disheartening that a prominent Christian “ethicist” thinks the ADL’s Abe Foxman is full of baloney for suggesting such comparisons are inappropriate.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.