Religious, Labor And Public Policy Organizations Urge House To Reject 'faith-based' Legislation

46 Groups Say Bill 'Would Harm Religious Liberty, Turn Back Clock On Civil Rights'

Arguments over controversial aspects of President Bush's faith-based initiative sent the House of Representatives into disarray today, leading to a startling delay in consideration of the contentious plan to fund religious groups with federal tax dollars.

The legislation, introduced in the House as the "Community Solutions Act" (H.R. 7), was to be voted on by the House today. House leaders were forced to delay debate on the measure until tomorrow after Republican moderates -- during this morning's caucus meeting -- balked over aspects of the bill that permit federally funded employment discrimination.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the leading opponent of the initiative, described the development as a sign of trouble for the White House and supporters of the initiative.

"The White House has been papering over this bill's fatal flaws for months," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This bill has stalled in the House because it allows federally funded employment discrimination. Using tax dollars to pay for discrimination is morally and constitutionally unacceptable, and more and more members of Congress are recognizing that fact.

"This bill is a political nightmare for the White House," Lynn added. "It has already alienated religious leaders, civil rights advocates and social service providers. Now, members of the president's own party are jumping ship.

"No wonder Bush has left the country," Lynn quipped.

Lynn noted that the legislation allows publicly funded discrimination not only on the basis of religious affiliation, but also factors such as marital status, sexual orientation and pregnancy.

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.

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.