[Hpn] Faith-Based Discrimination / ACLU press release 29 Jan 2001 (fwd)

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 6 Feb 2001 06:51:31 -0800 (PST)

FWD  ACLU News 02-05-2001: Snooper Bowl, Faith-Based Discrimination, More!
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     ACLU Says Bush Initiative Represents
     Faith-Based Prescription for Discrimination

Monday, January 29, 2001

WASHINGTON -- The American Civil Liberties Union today said that President
George Bush's new initiative to give tax dollars to religious
organizations would lead to government-funded discrimination in employment
and services and a dangerous loosening of licensing and standards for
providers of social services.

"This new Bush initiative represents a faith-based prescription for
discrimination," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington
National Office. "What the President is proposing today will open the Bob
Jones Universities of the world to receiving federal funds without any
civil rights safeguards."

The ACLU and others, including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,
say that the Bush faith-based initiative would both violate the separation
of church and state and allow taxpayer funds to be used in several
discriminatory ways. The initiative would allow for taxpayer-funded
discrimination in:

**Employment. Because religious organizations are exempt from many civil
rights laws, they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of their
religious beliefs and teachings about race, religion, sexual orientation,
gender and pregnancy status. Under the Bush initiative, for example, a
Catholic church receiving public funds for literacy programs could fire a
teacher for getting pregnant outside of marriage or an Orthodox Jewish
synagogue that operated a food bank could refuse to hire non-Jews or

**Provision of Services. Under the Bush initiative, there are no
restrictions on how religious organizations incorporate their beliefs in
the delivery of social services. These groups would be allowed to decide
who gets priority for services and what services are actually provided.
The ACLU believes that the lack of protections could lead to
discrimination against those who most need help. A Baptist church that is
running a local housing program could, for example, give preference to
low-income people in their own congregation.

The ACLU also said that the Bush initiative would not require that
religious organizations hire trained and licensed counselors and
therapists to deliver social services. In Texas, where then-Governor Bush
implemented many elements of his new federal program, a church-based drug
rehabilitation program argued that drug addiction was a sin, not a
disease, and offered prayer and Bible reading as "treatment."

"Priests, ministers and rabbis are the best people to offer spiritual
guidance that can be helpful to people in need," Murphy said. "But many
individuals faced with drug addiction, mental illness and other problems
need more than spiritual advice. They need people who are trained and
licensed to address their specific physical and psychological needs."


* Other Recent ACLU News Releases

01-29-01 -- ACLU of Illinois Expresses Opposition to Creation of White
House Office to Distribute Taxpayer Funds to Religious Organizations

01-24-01 -- NYCLU Says Loophole in Women's Health Bill Allows Denial of
Service on Religious Grounds

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