Washington, D.C. – Interfaith Alliance President Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order prohibiting government contractors from engaging in employment discrimination. In honor of this anniversary, Interfaith Alliance and its colleagues call upon the Obama administration to rescind President George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13279 which carved out an exemption that enables religious organization contractors to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion. The statement follows:
Seventy years ago, President Roosevelt put our country on a course that protected both faith and freedom by prohibiting employment discrimination by government contractors. Unfortunately President Bush took us off that path and President Obama has so far chosen not to correct that mistake. Since that change in policy, our government has doled out taxpayers’ hard earned money to religious organizations without holding them to the same standards as other government contractors. Though our First Amendment protects the integrity of religious groups to make hiring decisions in line with their faith and values, it does not allow them to discriminate while using government funds.
Though improvements have been made by the Obama administration that bring the faith-based initiative more in line with our Constitution, the fact remains that the all-important issue of civil rights protections to guarantee no employment discrimination occurs, remains unaddressed. I hope that President Obama’s campaign-stated commitment to preventing such discrimination has not wavered, but I am disappointed not to have seen evidence that this is the case since he came into office two years ago. I urge President Obama and his administration to honor this historic anniversary by rescinding the executive orders that have enabled government-funded hiring discrimination to occur and restore the crucial civil rights protections rightfully set in place seventy years ago. This action on the President’s part will not infringe upon the right of religious groups to discriminate in who they hire; but federal money cannot be used to sponsor discrimination.
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.