Colo. ‘Faith-Based’ Groups Derail Bias Ban

A Colorado bill barring “faith-based” job discrimination in state-funded social service programs has apparently been derailed after protests from conservative religious groups.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Denver, Focus on the Family and other allied organizations said House Bill 1080 was a threat to their religious mission. The measure, introduced by House Majority Leader Alice Madden, would have barred faith-based groups that operate tax-funded programs from discriminating on the basis of religion or sexual orientation in hiring.

In a Jan. 23 column in The Denver Catholic Register, Archbishop Charles Chaput called the measure a “truly bad bill” and threatened to discontinue the church’s partnership with the state government on social services.

“When [Catholic Charities] can no longer have the freedom it needs to be ‘Catholic,’ it will end its services,” he insisted. “This is not idle talk. I am very serious.”

According to the e-newsletter of The Roundtable on Religion & Social Welfare Policy, Rep. Madden has tabled the measure for the current session. She and Gov. Bob Ritter hope to schedule a meeting this summer with supporters and opponents of the bill to work out a compromise.