‘Faith-Based’ Battle Begins Again In Congress

The new Congress has moved quickly to take up a bill advancing the Bush administration’s much-touted “faith-based” initiative.

In mid February, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved the Job Training Act, which contains a provision allowing federal funds to be used by “faith-based” agencies that discriminate in hiring based on religion. The bill (H.R. 27) is likely to be ready for consideration on the House floor early in March.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State criticized the panel for approving the bill.

“This bill forces taxpayers to subsidize religious discrimination in publicly funded job-training programs,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. “Some members of Congress, with the president’s backing, are seeking to roll back vitally important civil rights protections. Everyone who cares about fairness in federal hiring should be concerned.”

Americans United, working with a coalition of education, religious, civil liberties and other public interest groups, urged the full House to dump the “faith-based” provision from the jobs bill.