Jeff Huett: Phone: 202-544-4226
Cherilyn Crowe: Phone: 202-544-4226 Cell: 202-603-1663

December 7, 2011

WASHINGTON – A diverse coalition of religious and civil rights organizations, including the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, has asked the heads of faith-based offices in 13 federal agencies for information on how the Obama administration determines whether religious organizations may discriminate in hiring for government-funded positions.

This is the latest effort by members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination to follow up on then-candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 pledge to restore anti-discrimination protections and end policies instituted by the George W. Bush administration that permit discrimination on the basis of religion in federal employment. 

“Instead of reversing the Bush-era policies,” the letter states, “various Administration officials have stated that hiring discrimination is now being reviewed on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.” While administration officials have repeatedly made this claim, they have “never explained the standard it applies or the process [the administration] uses for the analysis.”

Click here to view a PDF of one of the letters sent.

Late last year, President Obama issued an executive order primarily designed to shore up the legal basis of existing federal policy on partnerships between the government and faith-based and community-based social service groups. It implemented many of the recommendations of a diverse advisory council designed, in part, to advise and reform the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. But while the amendments seemed likely to reduce the risk that government money will be used to promote religion, they did not address the hiring issue.

“This divisive issue cannot be kicked down the road forever,” said BJC General Counsel K. Hollyn Hollman. “The Baptist Joint Committee and the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination will keep sounding the alarm that our government should not subsidize religious discrimination.”                                     

Receiving the two-page letter were the Department of Justice, the Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, Department of Agriculture and Department of Veterans Affairs. 


The Baptist Joint Committee is a 75-year-old, Washington, D.C.-based religious liberty organization that works to defend and extend God-given religious liberty for all, bringing a uniquely Baptist witness to the principle that religion must be freely exercised, neither advanced nor inhibited by government.