It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many American Christians that the country which has long upheld religious freedom has made it difficult for people to freely practice what they believe.
Certainly, we can still attend church, pray, vote and take part in a host of other activities enjoyed by all Americans, but when it comes to the workplace, the government isn’t always as accommodating, particularly for organizations such as Christian ministries.
Earlier this week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that World Vision, the Christian aid organization, had a right to terminate two employees who said that they did not agree with World Vision doctrinal beliefs. Those employees sued for religious discrimination, but the court decided in favor of World Vision 2-1.
By law, private companies cannot discriminate based on religion. However, the law includes an accommodation for “a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society,” as noted by the Heritage Foundation. Though not a church, the judges ruling in favor of World Vision agreed that the exception applies to them too.
A couple of cases ruled earlier this year dismayed believers including one involving Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. That nonprofit organization was forced to stop providing adoption services and benefits to spouses because they refused to compromise on their belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Another court also ruled against recognizing a Christian group at a public university who refused admittance to someone who didn’t agree with their religious beliefs. There have been other cases in recent years, but these two are among the most visible.
Letter to Congress
On Wednesday, a letter was delivered to the U.S. Congress asking members to reject legislation aimed at forcing religious organizations to not prohibit hiring based on religious grounds. The U.S. conference of Catholic Bishops, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and others signed on, representing more than 100 groups according to The Christian Post.
HR 5466, introduced by Rep. Patrick Kennedy, would reauthorize federal substance abuse treatment funding that is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That bill also contains a provision that would ban faith-based groups from receiving federal funding if religious considerations are part of their hiring process.
World Vision receives $300 million in federal funding as part of their aid efforts. Most of the signatory parties don’t receive funding, but they believe that such a law could thwart their efforts to hire people of their own choosing.