Thursday, June 26, 2003

Bush says: Taxpayers should pay for his bigotry

President Bush announced yesterday, without much fanfare, that he was for discrimination in hiring ; and that he would try to put federal money- your money- into programs that discriminated. At the end of this piece, read the Washington Post article for more details.

How far have we moved away from President Clinton’s dream of inclusion to this? Now, we have a man in the White House who makes no bones about it. He wants your tax dollars to fund hiring bias. The problem here isn’t that some people’s faiths are moralistic and judgmental. If a person wants to act in that manner, then fine. That’s what freedom is all about. The problem here is that Bush wants to choose one person’s ideas over another and fund them.

There are so many things wrong with this meddling, stupid, big-Government activism, I don’t know where to begin.

Shall I begin by saying that it violates the first amendment - you know, the one that says Congress shall make no law establishing a religion?

Shall I begin by saying it is true conservatives nightmare? What happens when conservatives (which Bush is not) are not in power anymore and the church is suddenly run by a hostile Government?

Shall I begin by telling you the implications? HUD spending money to build churches all over the US, instead of houses? NO! Soup kitchens that are run by federal dollars? Want some soup? Renounce your God! NO!

Don’t just sit there. Join the fight against this stupid idea. Get busy today!

That’s why I am voting for John Kerry.

Virginians: note that Bobby Scott is mentioned here.

Bush Backs Religious Charities On Hiring
Hill Is Urged to Ease Bias Rules on Groups That Get U.S. Funds
By Mike Allen and Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 25, 2003; Page A01
President Bush called on Congress yesterday to make it easier for federally funded religious groups to base their hiring decisions on a job candidate's religion and sexual orientation.
A White House position paper sent to Capitol Hill argues that "religious hiring rights" are part of religious organizations' civil rights. "When they receive federal funds, they should retain their right to hire those individuals who are best able to further their organizations' goals and mission," the document says.
H. James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said in an interview that he found great confusion about hiring laws when he met with officials of charities throughout the country. "It's been abundantly clear that the religious hiring issue is a real barrier for a lot of faith-based organizations," Towey said. "And if faith-based organizations are deterred from providing services, the real losers are the poor."
Administration officials said the policy, months in development, takes a stand that Bush has long held but has not previously spelled out.
The White House document calls on Congress to clarify a confusing and sometimes contradictory area of law. Since 1972, Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act has said that religious groups can hire staff members based on religious beliefs, which at least one court has interpreted to include views on sexual orientation. But the laws that authorize some federal social service programs, such as job training, prohibit any group that receives federal funds from discriminating on the basis of age, gender, race or religion.
No broad federal law bans discrimination in hiring based on sexual orientation, but some state and local laws do.
The White House position paper does not change administration doctrine, but it puts Bush in a much more aggressive position on a highly charged issue. It comes as his reelection campaign is picking up speed, and it demonstrates that he continues to work on proposals backed by religious organizations even though he has been unable to win passage of the broad "faith-based initiative" he advocated in the 2000 campaign.
The Rev. Ronald J. Sider, head of Evangelicals for Social Action, a 3,000-member group that encourages evangelical Christians to work for the poor, said the White House seems to be making "a more aggressive, vigorous attempt to explain to the public what the situation is and to make the case for religious freedom in hiring."
"It indicates that they're serious -- and they darn well better be, because it's crucial to a whole lot of us," he said. "I think the administration understands that the very identity of faith-based organizations is at issue in hiring rights."
Towey, who outlined the administration's position yesterday in a speech at the national conference of Volunteers of America in Fort Worth, noted that President Bill Clinton signed four laws -- including the 1996 welfare reform act -- that allowed religious organizations receiving federal funds to hire on a religious basis.
However, Christopher E. Anders, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the changes Bush seeks would institutionalize religious bias. "The administration can sugarcoat it as much as it likes," he said, "but the idea has no traction in Congress."
The goal of Bush's "faith-based initiative" is to help religious charities compete for federal funds for a range of social services, such as soup kitchens, job training and addiction treatment. Two years ago, an early version of the legislation called for exempting religious groups not only from federal discrimination laws but also from state and local statutes.
Those proposed exemptions were a major reason the legislation floundered. Congress passed a watered-down version this spring that provided tax benefits to all charities but gave no special protections to religious groups.
House Republicans and the Bush administration now seek to include exemptions from discrimination laws in individual bills that reauthorize federal social service programs. For example, language allowing hiring on the basis of religion is contained in the Workforce Investment Act, the country's main job training legislation. It passed the House on May 8 and awaits Senate action.
A bill reauthorizing the Head Start program for the next five years contains a similar clause. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce approved that bill on a straight party-line vote last week, and it could come to the floor in July, said David Schnittger, spokesman for the panel's chairman, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).
Bush's position paper says the administration will let the courts decide whether state and local bans on hiring discrimination should apply to religious organizations. Some conservatives want to eliminate such bans in cases involving religious groups that believe the hiring of gays and lesbians, for instance, would be contrary to their mission.
"The president will urge the courts to provide guidance on whether faith-based organizations are required to comply with state and local ordinances that restrict their ability to participate in federally funded formula and block grant programs," the document says.
Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.) plans to introduce legislation today that would nullify regulatory decisions by the Bush administration that permit employment discrimination by some religious organizations.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, called the White House proposal "another last-ditch effort by Bush to save his faith-based initiative."


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