Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bush Administration Seeks to Preempt Local Anti-Discrimination Laws

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Bush Administration Seeks to Preempt Local Anti-Discrimination Laws

Article excerpt

In a more that seeks to preempt local laws, the White House released a report to persuade Congress to permit discrimination in hiring by faith-based institutions that deliver social services with federal dollars.

The report, entitled, Protecting the Civil Rights and Religious Liberty of Faith-Based Organizations, advocates that faith-based groups using taxpayer dollars for programs like Head Start can discriminate in hiring employees.

The report calls for the court to determine "whether faith-based organizations are required to comply with state and local ordinances that restrict their ability to participate in federally funded formula and block grant programs."

James Tomey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Based Initiatives, describes state and local laws that prohibit discrimination as "a big stumbling block, for sure."

The report concludes, with no offer of evidence, that state and local anti-discrimination laws on the basis of religion and other forms of discrimination have "discouraged many effective faith-based providers from competing" to receive government funds to deliver social services.

Some political insiders see the report as an escalation of lobbying efforts by the White House to force Congress to pass legislation that would permit religious-based discrimination in hiring.

Two months ago, the Senate passed a compromised version of the President's faith-based initiative only after receiving assurances that the controversial provisions of the bill would be dropped. …

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