Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged a House committee to reject an unwise bill that would repeal long-standing civil rights safeguards designed to protect workers against religious discrimination in federally funded job training programs.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is set to consider the Job Training Improvement Act today. A provision in that measure, H.R. 27, would allow federal funds to be used by "faith-based" agencies that discriminate in hiring based on religion.
"This measure advances the Bush administration's deeply flawed 'faith-based' initiative," 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.
"This bill forces taxpayers to subsidize religious discrimination in publicly funded job training programs," Lynn continued. "That's fundamentally wrong."
Lynn said it is perfectly legal for churches to use their own money to hire their own adherents to serve in church positions. But such religion-based selectivity, he said, should not be permitted in programs paid for by the taxpayers.
"It's understandable for a Baptist church to take an ad that says, 'Pastor wanted: only Baptists need apply,'" Lynn observed. "It's not acceptable for that church to take an ad that says, 'Government job counselor wanted: only Baptists need apply.'"
Americans United for Separation of Church and State 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.
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.