Over 100 religious groups protest Patrick Kennedy bill

The Christian Post reports that over 100 religious groups are protesting a piece of legislation that would ban faith-based groups from receiving federal funds if they use religion in their hiring practices.

The language can be found in HR 5466 – a bill introduced in the House in May by Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI). The bill proposes to “reauthorize federal substance abuse treatment funding that is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.”

A letter – endorsed by such groups as World Vision, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, U.S. conference of Catholic Bishops, and Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – was delivered Wednesday.
“The law has long protected the religious freedom of both the people who receive government-funded services, and the groups that provide the services – long before President Obama, and long before President Bush,” said Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel of USCCB, in a statement. “Stripping away the religious hiring rights of religious service providers violates the principle of religious freedom, and represents bad practice in the delivery of social services.”

Kennedy calls faith-based hiring “discrimination,” but many religious organizations say this bill allows Congress to tamper with their religious freedom.

One of the most powerful arguments here is a practical one. We need religious charities — they do better work than governmental organizations. Their best asset is their people. So they should be able to hire those who can serve their mission most effectively. 

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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