Posted: 19 Nov 2010 04:39 PM PST
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 see his testimony.
For more information, contact Amanda Knief, government relations manager, at 202-299-1091 or email@example.com.
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Posted: 19 Nov 2010 09:24 AM PST
Leading teaching unions and education campaigners have joined together with religious representatives and the British Humanist Association (BHA) to call on the Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Michael Gove MP to scrap collective worship in schools and replace it with inclusive assemblies.
The joint letter, organised by the BHA, emphasises that the requirement on schools to provide daily acts of worship places obligations on teachers which is bureaucratic and unnecessary. The letter also states that the requirement can prevent schools from holding inclusive, educational assemblies and, moreover, that compulsory worship infringes on children’s rights to freedom of conscience, religion or belief.
BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘There is no good argument for retaining a law which compels schools to hold daily acts of worship; a law which is outdated, discriminatory and most schools do not observe in any case.
‘If this restrictive law is scrapped, schools will be free to hold inclusive educational assemblies which can build shared values and a sense of community. If the government really is serious about abolishing unfair and unnecessary laws, and about ‘freeing’ schools, then the law on school worship should be near the top of the government’s list.’
Posted: 18 Nov 2010 09:57 PM PST
Americans United for Separation of Church and State today told Congress that Bush-era rules governing the “faith-based” initiative are unacceptable and should be promptly overturned.
In testimony to a U.S. House subcommittee, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, noted that President Barack Obama promised to fix the constitutional problems but so far has taken only modest steps in that direction.
Yesterday, the White House issued an executive order that added stronger beneficiary protections and more transparency about funding recipients. But a George W. Bush rule allowing publicly funded “faith-based” charities to discriminate on religious grounds in hiring remains in place.
In remarks submitted to the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, AU’s Lynn said the Bush policy on employment discrimination and other civil liberties concerns is in dire need of correction.
“At the end of the Bush administration,” said
“Each day that no action is taken,”
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