(RNS) A top Southern Baptist official has apologized to Jews for saying Democrats’ proposals to reform health care are “precisely what the Nazis did.”
“It was never my intention to equate the Obama administration’s health care reform proposals with anything related to the Holocaust,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission wrote in a letter on Wednesday (Oct. 14) to the Anti-Defamation League. “My concern, which is clear when the remarks are reviewed in context, was about the potential denial of health care to the elderly, the infirm, the disabled and the unborn.”
According to the Florida Baptist Witness, Land referred to Nazis as he criticized the health care reform plans of President Obama and congressional Democrats in a Sept. 26 speech to the Christian Coalition of Florida.
“I want to put it to you bluntly,” Land said in the speech. “What they are attempting to do in health care, particularly in treating the elderly, is not something like what the Nazis did. It is precisely what the Nazis did.”
In an Oct. 9 letter, Foxman told Land that he was particularly offended by the remarks as a Holocaust survivor.
“While we understand there are deep convictions and passions regarding the health care reform, whatever one’s views are, the Nazi comparison is inappropriate, insensitive and unjustified,” Foxman wrote.
“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 (Nazi dictator Adolf) Hitler.”
Land told Foxman that he would choose his words more carefully in the future.
“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 health care debate,” he wrote.
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.