The following press release from Americans United for Separation of Church and State brings up some important issues.
Congress Should Reject Conservative Religious Groups’ Call For Taxpayer-Funded Job Bias, Says Americans United
August 25, 2010
If ‘Faith-Based’ Charities Want To Discriminate In Hiring On Religious Grounds, They Shouldn’t Get Public Funds, Says AU’s Lynn
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today urged Congress to reject an appeal for public funding of “faith-based” charities that discriminate in hiring on religious grounds.
In a letter to every member of Congress today, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, World Vision and other conservative religious organizations demanded that faith-based charities get government subsidies even if they hire only job applicants who meet certain religious criteria.
Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, “I am appalled that these religious leaders are trying to undermine the civil rights protections that every American counts on. If government pays for a social work position, every qualified applicant should be considered for the job regardless of their views on religion.
“At a time when the economy is hard-hit and a lot of people are out of work, it is disgraceful that some religious leaders want to deny government-funded job opportunities on the basis of religion,” he continued. “Members of Congress must say no to this exercise in discrimination.”
Lynn said the signers of today’s letter represent only one part of the broad spectrum of religion in America. He noted that groups representing the Jewish, Baptist, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Unitarian and Quaker communities have strongly opposed government-subsidized job bias.
Leading civil rights and civil liberties groups have also opposed this kind of hiring discrimination.
Lynn noted that public opinion polls show that Americans reject publicly funded faith-based bias by a wide margin. According to a 2008 Pew Research Center poll, 73 percent of Americans say organizations that hire only people who share their religious beliefs should not receive government grants.
There are a few things I would also like to bring up on the subject.
1) Government funding of religious organizations under any circumstance violates state/church separation. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the "establishment of religion," not just the establishment of a religion. There is no possible way that the government can fund religious groups or use them to provide services without establishing religion.
2) The very act of being a religious charity is discriminatory. An inclusive charity includes people and provides services to people regardless of faith or freedom from faith.
3) The very premise behind the hate based initiatives is bigoted against freethinkers. These existence of them is based on the claim that religion makes people better, which is as fact free as it is insulting to atheists and agnostics.
4) There already are plenty of greedy and power mad corporations corrupting our government for their gain. The last thing we need to do is add churches and religious groups to the corrupting entities. Privatization has been proven itself to be a corrupting influence in every society where it has been tried, and churches already corrupt human societies enough as it is.
5) When President Obama followed through on his campaign threat to expand Bush's hate based initiatives, this was terrible news for the First Amendment and the civil rights of atheists. What did surprise me was that many in the LGBT community were actually surprised when a lot of the funded churches and people making funding decisions were viciously heterosexist. All the major religions in this society are bigoted against queers. If they have their hand in the till, queers suffer.