The Error Driven Life: Rick Warren Spouts Misinformation About Health Care
Rob Boston printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 12:03:10 PM EST

Remember Rick Warren? This mega-church pastor (whom I once referred to as "Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt" during a cable news interview) has been working hard to make himself a national figure, with mixed results.

Back in 2008, Warren, who leads Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and authored the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life, hosted a forum during which he interviewed presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain on their views on how religion and public policy ought to interact. Warren was subsequently invited to offer a prayer during Obama's first inauguration and promptly alienated lots of Americans by including references to Jesus.

Warren likes to portray himself as non-partisan, but he's really just another in a long line of Religious Right preachers who have plagued our nation over the years. In an attempt to get back into the media, he has joined his right-wing fundamentalist pals in attacking Obama.

In 2012, Warren attempted to replicate the 2008 political forum, but neither Obama nor former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney seemed interested, so that was that. Lately he has been talking about hosting a major conference on "religious liberty," but do far it's just that - talk.

Like a lot of theocracy-minded pastors Americans United has dealt with over the years, Warren seems to think he's qualified to address just about any issue. He's not. In fact, he's often remarkably uninformed. (Remember his infamous tweet implying that the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings was linked to evolution?)

At a recent forum at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Warren asserted that churches do a better job of providing health care than government.

"The audacity of the government telling the church how to do health care," Warren said. "We've been doing it 2,000 years longer than any government," Warren remarked.

Of course, many churches are involved in health care. The Catholic Church, Baptist bodies, Seventh-day Adventists and Jewish groups run hospitals, among others.

But these institutions could not exist without government aid. Religious hospitals often receive direct government support and of course are reimbursed for the patients they see under Medicare and Medicaid.

Warren played up a program his church sponsors in Rwanda that includes a health care component. There is a reason why church groups provide health care in poor, war-ravaged countries like Rwanda: There's often no other option.

If Warren thinks a network of clinics run by well-intentioned doctors can substitute for America's modern network of hospitals and medical specialists, he's sadly mistaken.

Warren is also confused over the issue of birth control. He has been a prominent critic of Obama's efforts to make sure that all Americans have access to safe and effective contraceptives, even if they work for religiously affiliated institutions.

"It's not like contraceptives are hard to get; you can them free anywhere," Warren said. "Why force someone who has a conviction against it....That doesn't make sense to me."

Perhaps it doesn't make sense to Warren because he appears to be disconnected from reality. First, under Obama's plan all houses of worship are totally exempt. They don't have to provide birth control to their employees.

Religiously affiliated nonprofits (hospitals, colleges, etc.) also are largely exempt from the contraceptive mandate. Obama has put forth a plan in which employees at these institutions will access contraceptives through a separate insurance plan paid for by the insurer.

Only for-profit corporations and businesses are required to pay directly for insurance plans that include birth control. AU and other groups argue that this mandate makes sense, since these companies are not in the business of promoting religion. (See this recent AU friend-of-the-court brief for more information.)

In each case, the decision of whether to use birth control rests with the employee. How does that private choice affect someone else's?

Secondly, what's the business about birth control being "free anywhere"? Warren may be referring here to condoms, which some universities and public health clinics make available at no cost to young people to encourage responsible sexual behavior.

It's not like there's a facility like this on every street corner, and even if there were, condoms are only one form of birth control. Many Americans rely on other methods, and I'm not aware of any kiosks out there eagerly passing out IUDs, diaphragms, Depro-Provera, cervical caps and birth control pills. These devices and medicines are not free. (Planned Parenthood estimates that the cost of birth control pills ranges from $20-$50 per month. Diaphragms cost $15-$75, but a medical exam is required first at an additional cost.)

Obama wants to make certain birth control is covered because it's an important aspect of medical care. Insurance companies are expected to embrace the plan because it will reduce unwanted pregnancies, and they'll save money in the long run. (This approach, by the way, could also lower the abortion rate - something Warren and his Religious Right cronies should support.)

Georgetown is a major university and one that's held in high regard. I'm sure that the university sponsors forums like this to inform the public of important issues. It's a shame that the school in this case dropped the ball by relying on Warren, who is so remarkably ill-informed.


WWW Talk To Action

The Sour Grapes Of Wrath: Tenn. County Politician Seeks To Stave Off God's Vengeance
It has become a cliché to say that you spotted an article online that was so strange you first assumed it was from The......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
An international network of some of the world’s most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship
When I was kid, the phrase "Banned in Boston" confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn't censor......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bill Donohue Mum While Andrew Napolitano Calls Pope Francis "A False Prophet"
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Decade Of Disgrace: Marking Ten Years Of The `Values Voter Summit'
The annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), the nation's largest gathering of the Religious Right, begins today. The event, sponsored by the Family Research Council......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Looking Beyond the Francis Frenzy
Much has been and will be written about the Pope regarding his historic visit to the U.S.  But it will be important to try......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Barton Bounces Back: Religious Right Purveyor Of Ersatz History Still Going Strong
Three years ago, Religious Right phony historian David Barton published a ridiculous book called The Jefferson Lies that argued, in part, that Thomas Jefferson......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right
In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, "Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness." Donohue then went on to describe the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Coercion In Kansas?: State Worker Claims She Was Fired For Non-Attendance At Christian Service
Let's say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It's totally voluntary, and they......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Kim Davis and Southern Civil Disobedience
Kim Davis, the county official who refused to grant marriage licenses, fits the profile of a long line of civil disobedience from the South.......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
An Anti-Theocratic, Progressive Christian Leader
I recently posted a short excerpt here, from an interview I published with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Litany Of Lies: FRC's Perkins Packs An Email With Copious Falsehoods
I realize that people may be tired of reading about the saga of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who is in jail......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Kim Davis is No Jack Kennedy
Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk who sits in jail for defying a Federal Court order to issue marriage licenses to everyone who......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.