House Approves Religious Bias In Jobs Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives in early May passed a major job-training bill with a provision that would permit employment discrimination based on religious beliefs in federally funded programs.

The House voted 220-204 to approve the Workforce Reinvestment and Adult Education Act (H.R. 1261) with the Bush administration's favored provision of allowing religious groups to engage in discriminatory practices when operating social services, in this case job training programs.

Americans United, along with other public interest groups, had urged the House to pass the Act without including the discriminatory provision.

"The House has just approved legislation that undermines our nation's commitment to civil rights and attacks the church-state wall," said AU Executive Director Barry W. Lynn in a press release following the vote.

Some House Democrats also expressed disappointment and outrage over the House's action.

"If you as a religious institution want to hire who you want, that's your right," said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). "But don't ask Americans of all religions to give you tax dollars to do so."