July 25, 2011
As reported by CNN, during a town hall event in Maryland on Monday, President Barack Obama affirmed an executive order permitting religious organizations that receive federal funds to employ only those who align with the organization’s religious beliefs. During the meeting, a question came from an “atheist,” who was an employee of the Secular Coalition of America, asking Obama if the order permits discriminatory hiring with taxpayer’s money.
Obama answered that if “it is closer to your core functions as a synagogue or a mosque or a church, then there may be more leeway for you to hire somebody who is a believer of that particular religious faith.”
The executive order was originally issued by President Bill Clinton and states that religious organizations cannot discriminate against the beneficiaries of their programs, but they “may retain religious terms in its organization’s name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization’s mission statements and other chartering or governing documents.”
Critics continue to push Obama to change faith-based hiring practices, including Rep. Bobby Scott from Virginia, who commented separately, “It is shocking that we would even be having a debate about whether basic civil rights practices should apply to programs run with federal dollars…There is just no justification for sponsors of government-funded programs to tell job applicants, ‘We don’t hire your kind.'”