Religious hiring by faith-based organizations is not illegal job discrimination.
After all, they are religious organizations, with a religious mission and motivation, a religious identity, religious activities, and religion-shaped concepts of service. Such an organization, naturally, cares that the convictions and conduct of its staff fits with its religious commitment — just as pro-choice groups aren’t inclined to hire people who will undermine their message, Democratic Senators’ offices screen out Republican applicants, and ecological organizations seek staff that care deeply about the environment. Read more…
- “The Religious Hiring Freedom” — a one-page summary.
- “Ten Affirmations on Religious Hiring” — an overview of the key facts and arguments.
- Details on the history and constitutional, legal, and policy foundations of the federal religious hiring freedom: Carl Esbeck, Stanley Carlson-Thies, and Ron Sider, The Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations to Staff on a Religious Basis (Center for Public Justice, 2004) PDF can be downloaded for free.
Strings Without Government Money
Government money (grants and contracts) come with many strings—conditions—some of which, despite the reforms of the faith-based initiative, may squeeze the religious identity and practices of a faith-based organization. But avoiding government money is no guarantee of avoiding secularizing conditions. Increasingly, secularizing restrictions are being applied as a condition of operating, even when no government money is involved. Read more…
- Gregory Baylor and Timothy Tracey, “Nondiscrimination Rules and Religious Associational Freedom,” Engage, vol. 8, no. 3 (June 2007).
- Carl Esbeck, “Why Legislatures Should Accommodate Religious Freedom”
Are Faith-Based Rules Changing?
Government collaboration with faith-based organizations long predates any federal faith-based initiative. What has changed with the faith-based initiative is the determined effort by federal officials to ensure that the government’s funding rules are not biased against faith-based organizations that are interested in helping the government serve the needy. Some states have also reformed their own rules for social-service grants and contracts. Read more…
- Stanley Carlson-Thies, “Faith-Based Initiative 2.0: The Bush Faith-Based and Community Initiative,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, vol. 32, no. 3 (Summer 2009), pp. 931-947.
- Stanley Carlson-Thies, Charitable Choice for Welfare & Community Services: An Implementation Guide for State, Local, and Federal Officials (Center for Public Justice, 2000).
President Obama’s Faith-Based Initiative
President Clinton: Version 1.0 of the federal faith-based initiative dates back to the Bill Clinton administration. Congress applied the Charitable Choice provision to three federal programs (welfare services, Community Services Block Grants, SAMHSA’s substance-abuse treatment and prevention funding). President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development opened a Center for Community and Interfaith Partnerships. Read more…
President Bush’s Faith-Based Resources
The George W. Bush administration generated a wide range of documents and guides to set out and explain the church-state and other rules that apply when a private organization, whether faith-based or secular, receives federal funds to provide services. In addition, the administration commissioned training materials to assist community-based and faith-based organizations to operate more efficiently and to provide more effective services. It commissioned research to document how private organizations serve the needy and to understand to what extent the work of the faith-based initiative is changing how government officials partner with grassroots organizations. Read more…