President Barack Obama says he will bypass religious groups’ opposition to a health insurance mandate by directing insurance companies to hand out free birth control services to employees of religious institutions.

“Religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly… but women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women,” Obama said in a brief Friday statement at the White House.

After his statement, Obama walked out of the press room without taking any questions from reporters.

Obama’s maneuver, however, preserves the federal intrusion into religious groups’ operations, and will likely be widely panned by civil liberties advocates.

Already, many religious groups, including evangelical and Catholic groups, say they will resist the federal mandate because it is an imposition by progressives of state power on churches’ activities.

Obama recognized this church-state argument Friday, saying that his transfer of the mandate from churches to insurance companies will preserve religious liberty.