As Senate Convenes Hearings, ACLU Says Bush Initiative Represent Faith-Based Prescription for Discrimination

June 6, 2001 12:00 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States


WASHINGTON – As a Senate panel convened its first hearings on President Bush’s faith-based initiative, the American Civil Liberties Union today said that the Administration’s proposal would give federally funded religious organizations carte blanche to discriminate based on religion.

“The Bush plan is a prescription for discrimination,” said Terri Schroeder, an ACLU Legislative Representative. “The President’s initiative would cut the legs out from under what are essential civil rights protections that date back six decades.

“When federal money is in the mix,” Schroeder said, “the person with the right qualifications, not the right religion, should get the job.”

Schroeder pointed to testimony delivered today before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Wade Henderson, the Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse coalition of organizations committed to the protection of civil and human rights in the United States.

In his testimony, Henderson said the Administration’s proposal would waive a religious organization’s obligation to abide by non-discrimination rules that apply to federal contractors and grantees.

Under the President’s initiative, the ACLU predicted, taxpayer-funded discrimination would become the rule in hiring by religious organizations. Potential hires would be subject to invasive questions about such things as religious beliefs, the race of one’s spouse, sexual orientation, whether or not their marriage was annulled, or whether a woman is pregnant.

In previous testimony on the President’s program, the ACLU said that the Bush initiative would open the door to federally funded organizations claiming a religious right to discriminate based upon a characteristic other than religion such as race or gender. The testimony cited the case of Bob Jones University, which courts ruled in 1983 could be denied tax exempt status because of blatant racial discrimination on campus. Under the new law, the testimony cautioned, Bob Jones University would be eligible for federal funding even though it openly opposed racial intermarriage.

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Religious Liberty

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty issue image

The ACLU strives to safeguard the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty by ensuring that laws and governmental practices neither promote religion nor interfere with its free exercise.