As Charlie Savage reported in yesterday’s edition of The New York Times, the Department of Justice had approved a million-dollar-plus grant to an organization that will only hire Christians, effectively supporting religious discrimination.
The 25-page document, which was issued in 2007, only became available on the DOJ’s website this week. You can read it here (PDF).
Here’s what the document says:
You have asked whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) — which prohibits the Government from “substantially burden[ing]” religious exercise unless that burden “is the least restrictive means of furthering [a] compelling governmental interest”… requires OJP to exempt World Vision from the religious nondiscrimination provision. We conclude that RFRA is reasonably construed to require that such an accommodation be made for World Vision, and that OJP would be within its legal discretion, under the JJDPA and under RFRA, to exempt World Vision from the religious nondiscrimination requirement of section 3789d(c)(1).
Here is that paragraph translated into English:
The document signed off on a $1.5 million grant to World Vision, a group that hires only Christians, for salaries of staff members running a program that helps “at-risk youth” avoid gangs. The grant was from a Justice Department program created by a statute that forbids discriminatory hiring for the positions it is financing.
But the memorandum said the government could bypass those provisions because of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It sometimes permits exceptions to a federal law if obeying it would impose a “substantial burden” on people’s ability to freely exercise their religion. The opinion concluded that requiring World Vision to hire non-Christians as a condition of the grant would create such a burden.
It just furthers the idea that our current government cares little for our Constitution and only tolerates the Christian faith:
Barry Lynn, president of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said he hoped the opinion would not stand. “The Bush administration has been trying to allow religious recipients of tax dollars to discriminate in hiring,” he said. “No Congress intended that. The Constitution does not permit it. And this memo is just one more example of this administration subverting Congressional and constitutional intent in pursuit of a forbidden goal: discrimination in hiring.”
While Barack Obama and John McCain both support faith-based programs, the NYT article states: “Obama has also said taxpayer money should not go to programs that discriminate by faith in hiring, a condition Mr. McCain has not embraced.”
The election’s two weeks away. Vote for Obama. And if you live in a swing state you sure as hell better get your friends to join you.
(Thanks to Jeff for the link!)