Obama Should Stick to Constitutional Principles on Faith Based Programs

President Obama today announced that he will create a White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, but did not use the same opportunity to rescind the Bush-administration policy making it legal for recipients of faith-based funding to discriminate in providing services. News reports indicated that he would ask the Justice Department to review the policy which allows those same organizations to discriminate in hiring.

People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert issued the following statement:

"During the campaign, President Obama made clear that religious organizations that receive federal money should not discriminate. We strongly support that principle, but it's disappointing that today President Obama has missed an opportunity to put it into practice immediately.

"It's not about left or right: it's about upholding the Constitution. If churches accept federal funds, it's deeply inappropriate for them to discriminate on the basis of religion in their hiring. It's unconstitutional for federal money to support programs that only benefit those who profess a particular faith.

"President Obama needs to make good on his campaign promise that tax dollars aren't used to unconstitutionally discriminate on the basis of religion. Too often, religious discrimination is used as a proxy for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, race, and gender. People For is committed to ensuring justice and equality for all, and I look forward to working with the Obama Administration to correct this problem."

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