The Rev. Jim Wallis, a political voice in his own right, has responded to a recent action by religious leaders who have asked that the Attorney General remove protections for religious groups who discrimination in hiring. His basic answer is that theses religious groups should discriminate in providing services (note, that they groups are those who receive money from the ‘Faith-Based’ office in the White House (something I have been against since the last Administration created it.) but can hire to preserve religious identity.
This post responds to the following question posed on The Washington Post’s “On Faith” forum: Dozens of major religious groups and denominations are urging Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to renounce a Bush-era memo that allows faith-based charities that receive federal funding to discriminate in hiring. Should religious charities that receive federal grant money be allowed to discriminate in hiring?
The question is wrongly asked. It should have been asked like this: Should religious organizations be allowed to hire people of their own faith tradition and persuasion in order to maintain their identity? To that, my answer is yes. Nobody likes the word “discriminate,” nor wants to do it. And faith-based providers of social services should never “discriminate” in who is receiving their services, nor should they demand religious requirements or commitments for those services. When it comes to offering our compassion and comfort, we should be adamant in our “non-discrimination.” The government should be extremely vigilant in making sure that no discrimination in services is occurring, especially if the faith-based organization is receiving any public funds in the provision of those services. But service provision is not the same thing as hiring.