Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy released the following statement in response to President Obama’s answer today to a question about faith-based groups who provide social services being allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices while receiving government funding. The question was asked at a town hall meeting at the University of Maryland in College Park.
The President’s tacit approval of discriminatory hiring practices by faith-based organizations who receive taxpayer dollars is disappointing not just in its substance but also because it is a departure from the opposition to such discrimination he unequivocally stated while on the campaign trail. Creating the loophole that allows this type of discrimination to take place was a bad decision by the Clinton administration, made worse by the Bush administration, and its continuation by the Obama administration is a shocking disappointment.
Frankly, the President’s response that he has “struck the right balance so far” on this issue is misguided and untrue. There is no such thing as balance when it comes to discrimination supported by government funding. As I have said on numerous occasions, religious groups have every right to employ only those individuals who are committed to their religion and values—but if taxpayers are funding the organization, it should reflect our nation’s historic commitment to civil rights or exist without government money. President Obama’s comments today, taken as a whole, do not provide any encouragement that progress will be made in this area any time soon.
Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.