Monday, November 22, 2010

SCA Calls for Stricter Faith-Based Regulation

SCA Calls for Stricter Faith-Based Regulation

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

No related posts.

Gove called on to scrap restrictive law on compulsory collective worship in schools

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.

In England, all state-maintained schools are required by law to provide daily collective worship for all their pupils of a ‘wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character’. In ‘faith’ schools the act of worship is provided in accordance with the school’s trust deed or the tenets and practices of the religion or religious denomination of the school.

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.’

Related articles:

1.       Minister falls for ‘easily-dispelled myths’ about religious schools

2.      Churches gather to help schools

3.      BHA: Religious ‘free schools’ are not the answer to extremism

Obama Administration Should Take Action To Fix ‘Faith-Based’ Initiative, Americans United Tells Congress

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 Lynn, “nearly every social service program was governed by the faith-based initiative: The traditional safeguards that had protected religious liberty had been stripped, and civil rights protections barring the federal funding of religious discrimination had been abrogated. The Administration had even instituted a policy of allowing federally funded religious discrimination in instances where federal law specifically barred such discrimination.”

Lynn said the Bush policy is unconstitutional and unfair and should be addressed immediately by the Obama administration.

“Each day that no action is taken,” Lynn said, “applicants for federally funded jobs are subject to blatant religious discrimination and the religious liberty rights of social service beneficiaries are compromised… It is past time for President Obama’s administration to fix the faith-based initiative as promised.”

Related articles:

1.       Obama Executive Order On ‘Faith-Based’ Initiative Is Disappointing, Says Americans United

2.      Congress Should Reject Conservative Religious Groups’ Call For Taxpayer-Funded Job Bias, Says Americans United

3.      President Obama issues executive order implementing long-awaited reforms of the faith-based office



No comments:

Post a Comment

Secular Sri Lanka Post News Headlines

Secular News Daily