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Critics push Obama to change faith-based hiring rules

By LAUREN MARKOE
c. 2011 Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) A group of clergy and lawmakers is trying to overturn a nearly decade-old policy that allows faith-based organizations that receive federal funds to hire and fire employees on the basis of religion.

Critics say President Obama has reneged on a campaign promise to repeal the policy, which was put into place by President Bush in 2002.

“It is shocking that we would even be having a debate about whether basic civil rights practices should apply to programs run with federal dollars,” said Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.

“There is just no justification for sponsors of government-funded programs to tell job applicants, ‘We don’t hire your kind.”‘

Scott has sponsored legislation to repeal the policy. But advocates for the change say the most effective route would be for Obama to issue a new executive order to overturn Bush’s, Scott told reporters on Tuesday (June 21).

Bush introduced the policy to advance what he deemed a more faith-friendly federal approach toward charitable organizations that receive federal contracts for social services. Previously, groups that received government money were forbidden to consider religion in their employment decisions.

Bush, however, argued that while an organization accepting federal support could not refuse to help people based on their religion, it should be able to take religion into account when hiring and firing employees.

Many religious organizations — particularly conservative ones — hailed the overall initiative and continue to support it.

“We will do whatever we can to make sure this stays,” said Michele Combs, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, saying charitable organizations should have the right to employ those who share their groups’ values.

“That’s our freedom,” she said, “to hire and fire people of our faith.”

More liberal religious leaders, who typically toe a strict line on church-state separation, said the lingering Bush order undermines a century of progress in civil rights.

“Tax dollars should not be used to discriminate,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Scott and others referred to a speech Obama gave on the campaign trail four months before his 2008 election in which he promised to reform Bush’s faith-based program. Obama said a group receiving federal money shouldn’t be able to “use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”

Asked for comment on Wednesday, a White House spokesman said “the Justice Department continues to examine this issue on a case-by-case basis.”



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Comments read comments(4)
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Allan

posted June 23, 2011 at 2:21 pm


I am a Conservative who, right from the beginning, has said that Bush’s “Faith Based Initiative” should also be faith funded. Once you take government money, you are completely under the control of the government. If the churches are not willing to pay for their programs, they should not have them to begin with. Remember, these program–be they schools, hospitals, social service agencies–are all ministries of the churches involved, and should be treated as such.



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cknuck

posted June 23, 2011 at 6:45 pm


What sense does it make for a Christian program to be made to hire non-Christians or a Jewish program be forced to hire non-Jews. If they are going to help an organization to do a good job then the help should be unconditional. They tried to give us the money quite a few times but we turned it down every time, you just can’t eat the forbidden fruit without consequences. we are happy about being totally independent of government funding when one looks at how the government operates I can’t understand why anyone would want the government involved at all, they can’t afford to run their own departments. The cuts to government social services in this area was cut last year, early on this year, and now last week cut an additional 25%. It would be smart to outsource but not if they are going try to outsource on their own failing terms.



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George Marasco

posted February 21, 2012 at 6:00 am


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Mobile Disco London

posted February 4, 2013 at 5:19 am


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