Hiring Discrimination Issue Remains “Under Review” for Faith-Based Office

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, President Obama’s appointment of Melissa Rogers to lead the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships prompted positive responses from church-state separation advocates, particularly those who have been involved with the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination. The principal issue CARD has focused on during President Obama’s first and second terms has been the administration’s willingness to exempt federally-funded faith-based organizations from laws prohibiting religious discrimination in employment. 

Today Rogers held a conference call with reporters, and was asked about this issue twice. “The administration continues to review it,” she said, adding that the “administration has not decided this matter—it remains under review.” (That has pretty much been the administration’s answer for over four years.) Although Rogers has written and spoken on the issue in the past, she emphasized that as director of the OFBNP, “I will carry out President Obama’s views.”

This isn’t likely to satisfy the members of CARD, who have been frustrated and disappointed with the administration’s willingness to allow taxpayer-funded non-profits to hire and fire based on religion—thus allowing them to, for example, fire a Muslim employee because she won’t adhere to a Christian statement of faith, or a gay employee because of his sexual orientation. Not only has the practice continued, but the administration has not been particularly transparent in how the Department of Justice decides which federally-funded faith-based organizations are given an exemption to discriminate. Rogers’ answers did not suggest that more information would be forthcoming anytime soon.

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