Saturday, November 20, 2010

Obama Modifies Faith-Based Initiative Program

SCA Calls for Stricter Faith-Based Initiative Regulation
Obama Allows Religious Discrimination in Hiring to Continue

(Washington, D.C., November 19, 2010) On Wednesday, President Obama signed an executive order ( modifying the "Faith-Based Initiatives" program first established by former President Bush in 2001.

The Secular Coalition for America (SCA) applauds these few minor improvements that the executive order provides: organizations must now offer explicitly religious activities separately from those supported with direct federal financial assistance; participation in explicitly religious activities must be voluntary; and people receiving services who object to the religious character of an organization that provides services under the program must be referred to an alternative provider. 

The SCA is disappointed, however, by President Obama's decision to continue allowing religious organizations to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religious belief. 

"We urge the administration to require a religious organization providing social services using federal funds to create a separate entity that allows government oversight and prevents religious discrimination in hiring," said Amanda Knief, government relations manager for the SCA. 

On Thursday, Ms. Knief attended the hearing of faith-based initiatives held at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.  She also met with several Democratic members of the committee and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) prior to the hearing to discuss SCA members' concerns about the program.  SCA's Executive Director, Sean Faircloth, also submitted written testimony to the subcommittee.  Click here to view his testimony.

For more information, contact Amanda Knief, government relations manager, at 202-299-1091 or

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The Secular Coalition for America is the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans. From our office in the nation's capital, our lobbyists and support staff engage public policy makers and the media on issues ranging from religion's influence on education and medical research to the privileging of faith groups by government. We are the first and only cooperative venture of freethought organizations coming together to improve the cultural and political situation of a previously unrepresented constituency: the tens of millions of atheists and agnostics in the United States.

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