Groups Push to End Hiring Bias Legalized for Religious Charities

September 18, 2009

Author: Carrie Johnson

Source: The Washington Post

Nearly 60 groups concerned with civil rights, labor, health and education urged Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Thursday to renounce a Bush-era memo allowing religious charities that receive federal grant money to discriminate in hiring.

The groups signing the letter include the Anti-Defamation League, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the NAACP. It asks the Justice Department to withdraw a legal finding that they say stands as "one of the most notable examples of the Bush administration's attempt to impose a constitutionally questionable and unwise policy."

The intersection of church and state is posing a political challenge for the Obama administration, which is trying to balance pressure from traditional Democratic constituencies with a desire to find common ground on social issues. Earlier this year, President Obama issued an executive order reinforcing the need for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, but he left the religious hiring issue unaddressed.