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Tax Dollars, Sectarian Bias: Publicly Funded Evangelical Agency Fights For Religious Discrimination

If Sylvia Spencer took a job at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, no one would ask her what her religious beliefs are. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of Americans would be horrified to think that such a consideration could affect her employment prospects for a position providing publicly funded social services.

HHS officials should ascertain her qualifications for the task at hand, and that would be it. Read more

Iowa Outrage: Dobson-Affiliated Religious Right Group Took In $3 Million In Federal Funds

Just how rotten was the “faith-based” initiative under President George W. Bush?

Let the Iowa Independent fill you in.

In an April 16 report, the online newspaper reported that the Iowa Family Policy Council (IFPC) has received more than $3 million in federal grants through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money was supposedly earmarked for marriage counseling.

And just who is the IFPC? Read more

Feeding God’s Children: Tennessee Town Debates Faith-Based Funding For Ministry

Sid Kemp is upfront about the agenda of Feeding God’s Children. The ministry, affiliated with Two Rivers Church in Lenoir City, Tenn., provides food and other assistance to children in Appalachia and Guatemala, and it provides evangelism as part of the package.

Although recipients and volunteers don’t have to be “believers,” he said, religious outreach is a big part of the ministry’s work.

“We want to tell them about Jesus because we know that changes their lives permanently,” Kemp said. Read more

Bigotry At World Relief: Publicly Funded Evangelical Charity Won’t Hire Non-Christians

“If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them -- or against the people you hire -- on the basis of their religion,” explained then presidential-hopeful Barack Obama while discussing his proposed changes to the controversial “faith-based” initiative on the campaign trail in Ohio in 2008. Read more

Battling Bias: Interpreter Can’t Get Tax-Funded Job Because He’s The ‘Wrong’ Religion

For several years now, Americans United and other groups have spoken out against religious hiring bias in taxpayer-funded “faith-based” programs.

The issue to many people might seem like a legal abstraction. That’s why it’s helpful to occasionally have a human face put on the controversy.

Consider the case of Saad Mohammad Ali, a Washington state resident who volunteered for the evangelical Christian agency World Relief for six months. Read more

Funding Fuss: Church Drops Out Of D.C. Program Rather Than Abide By New Marriage Law

Today’s Washington Post reports that the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has stopped running its foster-care program to avoid having to license same-sex couples.

Back in November, the Archdiocese threatened to drop contracts with the D.C. government to provide social services if the D.C. Council approved a same-sex marriage bill. Thankfully, their threats did not faze the council, which approved the measure in December. Read more

More Faith-Based Follies: One Year Later, Initiative Remains Plagued With Problems

The one-year anniversary today of the unveiling of President Barack Obama’s version of the “faith-based” initiative has pushed the issue back into the spotlight. Unfortunately, the news is not good.

Speaking at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast, Obama boasted that he had “turned the faith-based initiative around.”

I was surprised to read that statement, because everything I see indicates that we’re still fighting the same old battles over faith-based funding that erupted during the Bush years. Read more

Fix The 'Faith-Based' Initiative: Americans Oppose Hiring Bias In Publicly Funded Programs

It's only a week away from Thanksgiving; the trees have all turned from green to vibrant shades of reds, yellows and browns and a crisp chill in the air puts me on pins and needles as I wait for the season's first snow. As we reach mid November, the end of the calendar year always sneaks up on me -- Christmas is right around the corner and that means it'll be New Year's Eve before we know it.

Read more

Obama And Church-State Separation: The Good, The Bad And The Uncertain

I just got back from New York City, where I spoke at an interesting event sponsored by our friends at the Center for Inquiry.

On Tuesday night, a three-person panel discussed the issue "Church and State in the Obama Era" at All Souls Church, a Unitarian-Universalist congregation. I wouldn't call this event a debate; it was more of a discussion of where we stand under Obama – as I put it (taking off from the title of an old Clint Eastwood Western), "The Good, the Bad and the Uncertain." Read more

'Faith-Based' Accord: Diverse Voices Are Wary Of Government Religion Subsidies

As you may recall, earlier this month, Americans United and allied groups urged Attorney General Eric Holder to revoke a Bush-era rule regarding "faith-based" funding for religious groups.

In 2007, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a legal memo providing a blanket right for religious organizations to discriminate in hiring staff, even if they receive federal funds. Read more

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