President George W. Bush made it legal for government-funded religious organizations like World Vision to hire and fire employees based on their faith, writes Lauren Markoe in The Christian Century (June 22, 2011).
Six years later, presidential hopeful Barack Obama campaigned against this idea, saying it’s discriminatory to hire people using federal money based on their religious beliefs. And yet, now that he’s president, the legislation hasn’t been overturned, even though President Obama could issue an executive order. Baptist Press (October 7, 2011) reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has just reinforced the notion that a federally-funded Christian organization may hire only Christians and fire those who disagree with their doctrine.
Lawmakers as well as some religious leaders are urging Obama to change these discriminatory faith-based hiring rules and make good on his campaign pledge, writes Markoe. These types of practices are plain discrimination, say supporters of overturning the legislation:
“It is shocking that we would even be having a debate about whether basic civil rights practices should apply to programs run with federal dollars,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D., Va.). “There is just no justification for sponsors of government-funded programs to tell job applicants, ‘We don’t hire your kind.’”