Faith Based America
So while I was on Alternet this morning I read a article entitled Welcome to Faith Based America in which the following was reported:
As part of President Bush's "faith-based initiative," US taxpayers gave the Salvation Army's children services division $47 million this year -- 95% of its total budget. Several Salvation Army employees refused to take the Salvation Army's pledge "proclaiming Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord," reveal which church they belong to or identify gay co-workers -- and were summarily fired.
It links to a Washington Post article in which we find:
U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein noted that all the plaintiffs worked for a children's services division of the Salvation Army that gets 95 percent of its $50 million budget from government grants.
But the judge's 48-page opinion upheld the principle that a religious group can hire and fire employees on the basis of their religious beliefs and practices, even if their salaries come from taxpayer funds. That principle is at the heart of the Bush administration's policy.
"It's huge," H. James Towey, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said of the decision. "It's certainly a vindication of what President Bush has been saying from Day One -- that religious groups do not have to sell their soul, compromise their hiring practices, in order to partner with government in providing social services."
This is a very important and clearly wrong judicial decision that clearly violates Church-State boundaries that Mr. Bush et. al. are bent on destroying.
If a school receives federal funds it cannot discriminate against protected classes. Now the 1954 civil rights legislation makes it clear that religion based organizations may hire and fire based on religion since religion is the basis of the organization's founding. Now Non-profit entities such as the Salvation Army do not pay taxes so long as they abide by the rules of 501c(3) regulations.
So we see that there is a conflict of interest here. The government cannot by law give funds directly to organizations that discriminate, yet "faith based" organizations are free to discriminate. Lets look at the ethics here:
People look for work. Much of what the Salvation Army does requires low skilled labor. People with low skills in America are more likely to be poor and, hence in need of employment. If one of those persons were to apply for a job they are qualified for you would think that the Salvation Army, being a charitable organization, would welcome the opportunity to provide employment to people. In fact, the last page of it's Annual report states:
THE SALVATION ARMY, AN INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT,
IS AN EVANGELICAL PART OF THE UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH.
ITS MESSAGE IS BASED ON THE BIBLE.
ITS MINISTRY IS MOTIVATED BY THE LOVE OF GOD.
ITS MISSION IS TO PREACH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST
AND TO MEET HUMAN NEEDS
IN HIS NAME WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION.
Thus ethically, and by it's own mission statement, the Salvation Army is out of line for making demands on the employees. Secondly, since the organization clearly states that it exists to "Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ," then it should not be receiving any funds from the Federal, State or Local government for it's activities. If it does receive such funds, then they should be made to show that the monies were used in activities that did not involved "Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
According to it's 2004 Annual report the Salvation Army recvieved 11%$ of its finding from the "government." It's budget was $3,040 million, 11% of which was $334,000,000 of US Taxpayer money
$60 million more than went to HBCU's in that year. $30 million more than was allocated for Community Development Loan Guarantees. There are many programs that the $334 million could have gone to but, no, it was given to an organization to prosyletize and discriminate against employees involved in addressing human needs.
Now it has been posited that folks who are not Christian should not work at an organization that is Christian. I would agree, except, well we supposedly work in a secular country where discrimination is prohibited. I do wonder whether the peeople who donate to the Salvation Army know that it discriminates and harrasses it's employees. I wonder if the Salvation Army checks the religion of the folks donating to it. I mean if employing and paying non-believers is a problem for the Salvation Army, then taking the money of non-believers should be a problem as well.
I'd like my portion of that $334 returned.