Saturday, June 25, 2011

Will Obama End Bush's Faith-Based Initiative?

Members of the religious left, homosexualists, and assorted liberals are calling on President Obama to end the allowance for religious organizations receiving federal money to hire whom they choose, but also a leading conservative Catholic voice has joined the chorus, albeit from a different perspective.

UPDATE 7/28/11: White House partners with churches in several cities to help needy

-- From "Critics push Obama to change faith-based hiring rules" by Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service, posted at USATODAY 6/22/11

A group of clergy and lawmakers is trying to overturn a nearly decade-old policy that allows faith-based organizations that receive federal funds to hire and fire employees on the basis of religion.

Critics say President Obama has reneged on a campaign promise to repeal the policy, which was put into place by President Bush in 2002.

Bush introduced the policy to advance what he deemed a more faith-friendly federal approach toward charitable organizations that receive federal contracts for social services. Previously, groups that received government money were forbidden to consider religion in their employment decisions.

Bush, however, argued that while an organization accepting federal support could not refuse to help people based on their religion, it should be able to take religion into account when hiring and firing employees.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "The Time is Now to Stop Faith-Based Hiring Discrimination" by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President of Interfaith Alliance 6/23/11 (member of President Obama's taskforce on the reform of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships)

Seventy years ago this week, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 marking the first time a president took steps to ensure equal employment opportunity in federal defense contracts -- affirming that an individual's race, color, religion or national origin should not deny that individual an equal employment opportunity in federal defense contracts. Across 70 years, almost every president has expanded and reaffirmed the nondiscrimination principles of Roosevelt's Executive Order.

. . . However, in December of 2002 President George W. Bush simultaneously issued Executive Order 13279 to enact his Faith-Based Initiative and with a stroke of a pen, eroded 60 years of civil rights history by exempting religious organizations from the prohibition on religious employment discrimination by federal contractors.

. . . Our First Amendment and civil rights laws have always protected the integrity of religious organizations to make staffing decisions in line with their respective faiths and values. I support and defend their religious freedom to do so. But this freedom, this right, should not stand when government money comes into play. Federal financing changes the rules.

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.

From "Are Faith-Based Hiring Policies a Social Evil?" by Bruce Hausknecht, CitizenLink (Focus on the Family) 6/23/11

What really caught my eye about the letter that these groups delivered to the White House, however, is how they justify their argument. Instead of a typical “wall of separation between church and state” liberal talking point memo, which I would have expected to see, they instead used a curious and insidious argument: Faith-based hiring is the same as refusing to hire someone because of their religion.

. . . By casting faith-based hiring as equivalent to invidious discrimination, these liberal organizations are either guilty of illogic on a grand scale, or they are intentionally painting faith-based organizations as perpetrating a social evil via their hiring practices.

. . . I note with interest that a fairly significant percentage of the signatories to the letter are gay and transgender activist organizations, which commonly argue that the religious hiring rights of faith-based organizations equate to hate and bigotry. I’m wondering if there’s a connection between these GLBT groups’ participation in this liberal coalition and the new, harsher arguments against faith-based hiring. Is it just a coincidence, or are they calling the shots?

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.

From "Shut Down Faith-Based Programs" posted at Standard Newswire 6/24/11

Catholic League president Bill Donohue explains why he is opposed to funding faith-based programs under President Obama:

President George W. Bush sincerely wanted to end discrimination in awarding federal contracts to social service agencies by including faith-based programs. When Sen. Obama was running for president three years ago, he pledged support for faith-based programs provided they were emptied of any faith component: he opposed the right of faith-based programs to maintain their integrity by hiring only people of their faith.

. . . When faith is gutted from faith-based programs -- when Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Jews can't hire their own -- we are left with a carcass. It would be better to save the money (Obama's faith-based program received $140 million in stimulus money last year) than to pretend that we are helping religious social agencies. The goal, obviously, is to convert these religious entities into full-blown secular organizations. It would be better not to let them hijack these programs in the name of assisting them, thus it makes sense to shut them down.

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.