NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Faith-Based Hiring Stirs Opposition

July 8, 2003

President Bush recently called on Congress to make it easier for religious charities that receive federal money to hire people based on their religious affiliation. His action is certain to further inflame civil liberties groups, which for two years have assailed his faith-based initiative as a violation of antidiscrimination laws. They may want to rethink their opposition says Joseph Loconte (Heritage Foundation).

Opponents predict that faith-based hiring would "turn back the clock on civil rights." Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-Va.), who has made a mantra of that claim, has said he would introduce legislation to block the initiative. Yet it is African-American churches -- the birthplace of the civil rights movement -- that have the most to lose, says Loconte.


  • Because a large majority of black congregations engage in social outreach, especially in urban areas.
  • The African-American Christian tradition alone claims about 65,000 churches and 20 million members.
  • Surveys suggest that these congregations are the most likely to seek government financing for their charitable work.

Some organizations may discriminate in their hiring practices against people who don't agree with their moral mission. In that they are no different than Planned Parenthood -- which got $240 million last year in government funds -- but has not been forced to staff its clinics with pro-life Catholics.

Source: Joseph Loconte (Heritage Foundation), "The Importance of Believing in Charity," New York Times, July 7, 2003.


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