Court rules religious groups can consider religion in hiring

The Ninth Circuit Court, a rather unpredictable group, has ruled in favor of the Christian relief organization World Vision, allowing religious organizations to hire only employees who are in accord with that religion.  From Christianity Today:

In most cases, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits private employers from hiring and firing based on religious beliefs. But a 1972 congressional amendment established that churches and religious associations could use faith-based criteria in hiring.

The Ninth Circuit ruling affirmed that an organization can fulfill a religious purpose without confining itself to worship-like activities, Carlson-Thies said. “An organization can be humanitarian and religious at the same time,” he said of the message sent.

As Ninth Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain put it in his majority opinion, “World Vision is a nonprofit organization whose humanitarian relief efforts flow from a profound sense of religious mission.”

But journalist Bobby Ross points out that the issue is not entirely settled.

HT: Sarah Pulliam Bailey

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    i used to work for world vision.

    I suspect that the logical legal question should be whether or not adherence to some specific religious tenants is essential for carrying out the work of the group. I can only think that this would be essential in teaching positions for those teaching religion. and then that would probably mean some sort of hiring exam. I could work in a roman catholic hospital and that hospital could establish, as a matter of corporate policy that they forbid birth control and abortion. I could be required to adhere to that policy if I chose to work there and my religious faith would not really matter. And if an organization required abortion and birth control , then I could refuse to work there.

    I really am not seeing how world vision should be allowed to screen employment candidates based on their religious views. what if I am a christian upon employment and then become buddhist muslim or atheist? grounds for dismissal that?

    That simply does not seem right. in a just society people must be judged strictly according to what they do and not according to who they are. period.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    i used to work for world vision.

    I suspect that the logical legal question should be whether or not adherence to some specific religious tenants is essential for carrying out the work of the group. I can only think that this would be essential in teaching positions for those teaching religion. and then that would probably mean some sort of hiring exam. I could work in a roman catholic hospital and that hospital could establish, as a matter of corporate policy that they forbid birth control and abortion. I could be required to adhere to that policy if I chose to work there and my religious faith would not really matter. And if an organization required abortion and birth control , then I could refuse to work there.

    I really am not seeing how world vision should be allowed to screen employment candidates based on their religious views. what if I am a christian upon employment and then become buddhist muslim or atheist? grounds for dismissal that?

    That simply does not seem right. in a just society people must be judged strictly according to what they do and not according to who they are. period.

  • DonS

    Sigh, Frank. This decision is a small victory for basic common sense and the Constitutional right to free association. Frank, why exactly should the government require World Vision, a Christian organization with a Christian mission, to hire non-Christians as their representatives and ambassadors? What kind of “face of Christianity” does that present to the world? I don’t understand the mindset that seeks to force people in a free country to do things that they don’t want to do. And isn’t our faith essential to EVERYTHING that we do here on this earth? We are who we are because of Christ our Savior.

  • DonS

    Sigh, Frank. This decision is a small victory for basic common sense and the Constitutional right to free association. Frank, why exactly should the government require World Vision, a Christian organization with a Christian mission, to hire non-Christians as their representatives and ambassadors? What kind of “face of Christianity” does that present to the world? I don’t understand the mindset that seeks to force people in a free country to do things that they don’t want to do. And isn’t our faith essential to EVERYTHING that we do here on this earth? We are who we are because of Christ our Savior.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I celebrate this decision, along with DonS (@2). It will be interesting to see how long it takes before some Christians (hopefully no one here) get upset that they were turned down for a job in this economy due to their religion, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

    I did have to laugh, however, at the characterization of the Ninth Circuit Court as “a rather unpredictable group.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but if this decision had gone the other way, wouldn’t we be hearing about the “predictably liberal, anti-Christian” Ninth Circuit from those on the right wing?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I celebrate this decision, along with DonS (@2). It will be interesting to see how long it takes before some Christians (hopefully no one here) get upset that they were turned down for a job in this economy due to their religion, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

    I did have to laugh, however, at the characterization of the Ninth Circuit Court as “a rather unpredictable group.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but if this decision had gone the other way, wouldn’t we be hearing about the “predictably liberal, anti-Christian” Ninth Circuit from those on the right wing?

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    Didn’t KFUO fight this battle in the 90′s with a lawsuit from someone who was turned away on the grounds of conflicting religion?

  • http://www.simdan.com SimDan

    Didn’t KFUO fight this battle in the 90′s with a lawsuit from someone who was turned away on the grounds of conflicting religion?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don s @2

    “And isn’t our faith essential to EVERYTHING that we do here on this earth? ”

    No Don. our faith is not essential for anything at all we can do in our bodies here on earth. Nothing we can do defines us in any way as “christian”. This is called the doctrine of “faith alone.”

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don s @2

    “And isn’t our faith essential to EVERYTHING that we do here on this earth? ”

    No Don. our faith is not essential for anything at all we can do in our bodies here on earth. Nothing we can do defines us in any way as “christian”. This is called the doctrine of “faith alone.”


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