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 celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.