Religious Leaders to the President: Don’t Curtail Our Religious Hiring Freedom
Activists are again pressing the Obama administration to curtail religious hiring by religious organizations that receive government funding. In response, IRFA in July organized a letter from faith leaders to the President, asking him to stand up against the pressure and to maintain current policy.
In June, the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination wrote to the President, requesting that he reverse a Bush executive order that made faith-based organizations that hire on a religious basis eligible for federal contracts. (Federal contracts buy goods and services for the federal government; this is different than federal money used by federal, state, or local governments in the form of grants or contracts to buy social services, education, health care, etc., for people in need.) CARD alleged that President Bush’s action was a violation of our vital civil rights tradition, and said that President Obama could uphold that tradition by reversing the Bush action and taking other steps to restrict religious hiring.
In response, a multi-faith group of leaders of faith-based organizations and advocates for religious freedom sent their own letter to the President, thanking him for retaining current law with regard to religious hiring and asking him to disregard the CARD plea.
The letter from the faith-based organizations points out:
“Religious hiring by religious organizations is not a deviation from the great civil rights legacy of the United States but rather a distinctive and vital feature of it–vital because it protects the religious freedom of religious organizations. And religious organizations are a vital means by which religious individuals exercise their religious faith. To deny religious organizations the ability to be distinctively religious is to deny millions of Americans their unique religious voice. Religious diversity is enhanced when religious groups speak in distinctive religious voices, rather than a coerced monotone.”