Religious groups protest Madden bill to regulate hiring | Politics West
A reasonable Colorado legislator wants to be sure religious organizations using public funds operate under the same anti-discrimination policies that every other tax dollar recipient abides by.
Currently, religious groups using tax money for social programs can discriminate against job applicants on the basis of religion. Catholic Charities, for example, can refuse to hire Baptists and Focus on the Family can legally turn away qualified atheists. The agencies claim the bill would somehow damage their integrity.
“Faith-based non-profits are spurred to social action by their deeply held religious beliefs,” said Jim Pfaff, president of Colorado Family Action.But it's hard to see how the bill would be all that terrible. Religious organizations, such as Focus on the Family, routinely collect private donations to cover overhead. The bill wouldn't disallow discrimination for positions funded by those dollars.
“Asking them to compromise their convictions not only breaches their religious liberties, but it is asking them to deny the very tenets that compel them to social action.”
Several years back, then-Governor Bill Owens stripped state funding from Planned Parenthood, arguing that state law prohibited state funds used to abortion. When PP responded by producing accounting data that showed the firewall between abortion services and state funds, Owens refused to believe the organization could credibly make that claim.
Maybe the state's religious organizations remember that sophistry. And maybe they fear being treated the same way. In any case, their argument against the bill rings hollow. Public monies should not be used to discriminate on religious grounds. The spiritual leanings, or lack thereof, of receptionists, computer programmers, security guards or marketing execs should not be used as criteria for employment decisions under any circumstances. This bill merely makes such discrimination illegal for a limited number of positions funded by tax dollars. The religious organizations are free to pursue their missions as they see fit. They shouldn't be free to apply their particular prejudices with taxpayer support.
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