Faith groups protest Biden plan to control their employment decisions

 April 9, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

"Nondiscrimination" schemes under the Joe Biden regime in Washington often have been used to advocate for blatant discrimination against Christians and Christian organizations.

One such situation recently developed when Democrats in Colorado insisted they could force a web designer to promote same-sex weddings if she provided any services to couples getting married.

The Supreme Court slapped down the state for violating the Constitution in its leftist agenda.

But those issues have developed over and over, and now it involves the State Department, which is proposing a new "nondiscrimination" demand that could affect the employment decisions of Christian ministries.

So officials with Samaritan's Purse, the Christian Legal Society, the Accord Network and other ministries have written to the State Department protesting the agency's plans.

The new proposal would ban discrimination against beneficiaries of programs that are sometimes given grants by the government "on specified bases."

But then the State Department bureaucrats also want to demand that those organizations providing benefits on a nondiscriminatory basis also hire employees on a nondiscriminatory basis.

The ministries in a letter to State explain that they "affirm" the idea of not discriminating against any benefit "recipient."

But the problem is the rules as planned by State threaten their right to hire employees they choose, and possibly could  force them to stop partnering with the government on aid programs.

It's not a small problem, they explain. "To illustrate the full extent of the potential loss of foreign assistance of USAID's top 50 largest foreign assistance recipients, religious organizations comprise $613 million in obligated agency funding in FY '23. They have worked in over 100 countries programming in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), displaced persons and refugee support, countertrafficking, and strengthening of civil society structures like health care and justice systems."

The aid organizations explain that the rule needs to provide that their religious character, affiliation, practices, and expressions of religious beliefs "will not preclude" them from participating in various programs.

They cite the Constitution, the religion clauses of the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and more to explain that the laws of the land require nondiscrimination rules to provide "overriding protection for religious freedom."

Without a provision for religious rights, the organizations told State, the proposed rules are "arbitrary and capricious" for failing "to consider a reasonable alternative, specifically, categorical exemption of religious organizations applying for foreign assistance grants and federal acquisition contracts…"

Without changes, the groups warn the Biden administration, "the regulations will infringe statutory and constitutional rights, frustrate the regulations' stated purpose, impede the delivery of foreign assistance, threaten the U.S. government's foreign policy objectives, foment expensive litigation and result in the unintended exclusion of religious organizations from being applicants and offerors for the department's grants and contracts."

Online, there's a petition procedure for people to sign up to agree with the comments: "I strongly oppose the U.S. State Department's consideration of new regulations that will cut off grants and contracts to Christian – and all faith-based – relief organizations that require their employees to share their faith and their religious values."

The charge to the government came from the Accord Network, Samaritan’s Purse, Christian Legal Society, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and others.

Specifically, the government is warned that there are such things as religious rights protected by the Constitution and the proposal would "not allow [faith-based organizations] to consider sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in the hiring process in order to remain eligible for foreign aid funding."

The ERLC explained, "Hiring staff members that reflect the religious beliefs of an organization is a long-standing pillar of religious liberty protections."

Franklin Graham, who heads Samaritan's Purse, added, "These proposed State Department regulations could be used to force faith-based organizations like Samaritan’s Purse to hire staff who disagree with our core biblical beliefs about God’s design for marriage, sexuality, and gender in order to be eligible for government grants."

He continued, "Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization and we will not compromise on the fundamental principle of hiring like-minded Christians who share our calling, our stand on the authority of God’s Word, and our statement of faith."

The groups explain in their letter to the government there needs to be a "categorical exemption" from religious belief requirements in the process.

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