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Social Justice Leaders Question Obama’s Commitment to Upholding Nondiscrimination Laws

September 19, 2011

Following recent comments regarding the Obama administration’s commitment to upholding nondiscrimination laws in the work place, Catholics for Choice joined 55 other religious, civil rights, labor and health organizations and delivered a letter to President Obama demanding a clarification of his stance.

At a town hall meeting on July 22 in College Park, MD, the president suggested that he supports allowing religious organizations to hire and fire employees in federally funded positions based upon the employee’s religion. This statement is in direct contradiction to comments he made while campaigning for the presidency. In 2008, candidate Obama avowed that he “firmly believes in the principle of non-discrimination in our hiring laws…. ” He even reiterated that “taxpayer dollars should not be used to support hiring discrimination and religious organizations that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate with respect to hiring for government-funded social service programs—just like any other federal contractor.”

The letter noted that the signatories’ frustration “is bolstered by other instances in which we believe the administration could have easily taken steps to overturn or otherwise address the troubling hiring discrimination policies adopted by the previous administration but did not.”

Effective government collaboration with faith-based groups requires us neither to abandon robust protection of church-state separation nor to allow federally funded religious discrimination. However, the president’s contradictory statements have led some to question whether the restoration of church-state separation protections is an administration priority. The letter seeks to open a dialogue, with the hope of encouraging the implementation of the Executive Order to reform and make other critical changes to the Faith-Based Initiative.

Read the full version of the letter to President Obama here.