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Southern Baptist Leader Apologizes for Offensive Remarks on Health Care Debate
The following is an exchange of letters between Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.


October 14, 2009

Dear Abe,

Thank you for your letter of October 9 expressing your concerns about my recent remarks regarding the debate over healthcare reform.

It was never my intention to equate the Obama administration’s healthcare reform proposals with anything related to the Holocaust. My concern, which is clear when the remarks are reviewed in context, was about the potential denial of healthcare to the elderly, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn.

You know of my longstanding love for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I have recently returned from Washington where I shared with policymakers and elected officials my grave concerns about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, the regime’s human rights abuses, and President Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust.

Now that I have had the opportunity to speak with you personally and reflect on my words, I deeply regret the reference to Dr. Josef Mengele. I was using hyperbole for effect and never intended to actually equate anyone in the Obama administration with Dr. Mengele. I will certainly refrain from making such references in the future. I apologize to everyone who found such references hurtful. Given the pain and suffering of so many Jewish and other victims of the Nazi regime, I will certainly seek to exercise far more care in my use of language in future discussions of the issues at stake in the healthcare debate.

Abe, I appreciate all you have done to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry in all its ugly forms. Please continue to count on me as a loyal ally in that struggle. It is my firm hope that our exchange on this topic will lead to greater cooperation between Jews and Christians on all matters of mutual concern, including opposing ethnic bigotry, Holocaust denial, and the extreme threat posed by the current Iranian regime.

Sincerely,

Richard Land
President
Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission



October 9, 2009

Dear Dr. Land:

I write to express our concern about your accusation that those working on healthcare reform are proposing, “precisely what the Nazis did,” and your bestowing of a Josef Mengele Award on Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the President’s chief healthcare advisor.

While we understand there are deep convictions and passions regarding the healthcare reform, whatever one’s views are, the Nazi comparison is inappropriate, insensitive and unjustified. As a Holocaust survivor, I take particular offense. Such comparisons diminish the history and the memory of the 6 million Jews and 5 million others who died at the hands of the Nazis and insults those who fought bravely against Hitler.

Dr. Land, I know you to be fair and concerned and have valued our exchanges in the past which we engaged in civilly and with mutual respect. In that vein, I ask that you understand the offense taken by your comparisons and urge you refrain from such in the future.

I know there are many issue on which we agree and I look forward to our working together to further them.


Sincerely,

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League

Related:

ADL Welcomes Christian Leader’s Apology For Insensitive Remarks On Healthcare Debate

 
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