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Religious Hiring Rights and Faith-Based Partnerships

“A faith-based organization [that receives federal funding] is only faith-based if it can hire people of the particular faith that it espouses,” says Bob Gehman, executive director of Helping Up Mission. While it is clearly illegal to discriminate against those who receive the benefits of the program, an organization that could not hire according to some kind of a “religious litmus test” would be irrevocably changed and its mission compromised, Gehman argues. Faith groups see the situation as akin to a politician or a federally funded environmental group hiring people with shared values, motivations and behaviors, but opponents think the legal carve-out is distinctly against the spirit and law of U.S. society. In a nine-minute video news report, Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly correspondent Kim Lawton explores the controversy.

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