In what could be yet another attempt to secularize religious groups that work with the government, the Obama administration is getting lots of pressure to require that religious organizations that take federal funds not be allowed to discriminate according to religion when it comes to hiring. That would mean Catholic or evangelical charities operating under a federal contract or grant would have to hire people who do not hold to the organization’s faith.
From Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service, Growing coalition presses Obama to end policy on religious discrimination in hiring – The Washington Post.:
A widening coalition of critics is urging the Obama administration to drop the practice of permitting religious groups to hire and fire based on a person’s faith when they receive federal money, saying Obama is reneging on a promise he made in 2008 to change that policy.
Ninety organizations wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder after discovering a new Department of Justice document that details rules on prohibiting discrimination by grant recipients as part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
The 11-page FAQ document, issued in April and citing a 2007 DOJ memo issued by the Bush administration, says faith-based organizations “may prefer co-religionists for employees in programs funded by covered grants” if they meet certain criteria.
Signatories to the June 10 letter said the Bush-era memo from the Office of Legal Counsel should be withdrawn because it “threatens core civil rights and religious freedom protections” in the Justice Department and other federal agencies. They say the memo undermines new nondiscrimination language in the Violence Against Women Act.
A major takeaway for religious organizations: Don’t take federal funds!