Faith-based procrastination: Religious job bias in taxpayer-funded program
Posted at 01:23 PM ET, 12/27/2012
Dec 27, 2012 06:23 PM EST
By Barry W. Lynn
No American should be denied a taxpayer-funded job because of what he or she believes about religion. Yet that’s exactly what is happening today under the “faith-based” initiative. It’s wrong, and it time for it to stop.
The idea of awarding tax aid to religious groups to run various secular programs for people in need is not new. As a strict advocate of separation of church and state, I’m not a huge fan of the idea, but courts have permitted such public aid under certain conditions.
What is new is the insistence that religious groups can take tax aid and still engage in overt discrimination on religious grounds when hiring staff. This concept was aggressively promoted by the administration of President George W. Bush. It was a bad idea then, and it hasn’t improved with age.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised to continue giving funds to religious groups but vowed to “strengthen the constitutional footing of the faith-based initiative,” including ending the Bush-era policy of officially sanctioning preferential religious-based hiring (that is, discriminatory hiring) in programs receiving tax dollars.