Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged Congress to reject an appeal for public funding of “faith-based” charities that discriminate in hiring on religious grounds.
In a letter to every member of Congress today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, World Vision and other conservative religious organizations demanded that faith-based charities get government subsidies even if they hire only job applicants who meet certain religious criteria.
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, “I am appalled that these religious leaders are trying to undermine the civil rights protections that every American counts on. If government pays for a social work position, every qualified applicant should be considered for the job regardless of their views on religion.
“At a time when the economy is hard-hit and a lot of people are out of work, it is disgraceful that some religious leaders want to deny government-funded job opportunities on the basis of religion,” he continued. “Members of Congress must say no to this exercise in discrimination.”
Lynn said the signers of today’s letter represent only one part of the broad spectrum of religion in America. He noted that groups representing the Jewish, Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Unitarian and Quaker communities have strongly opposed government-subsidized job bias.
Leading civil rights and civil liberties groups have also opposed this kind of hiring discrimination.
Lynn noted that public opinion polls show that Americans reject publicly funded faith-based bias by a wide margin. According to a 2008 Pew Research Center poll, 73 percent of Americans say organizations that hire only people who share their religious beliefs should not receive government grants.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.