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Today's Washington Post editorial, "Faith-Based Obama," focuses on Barack Obama's faith-based initiative speech from weeks ago and comes to much the same conclusion that Americans United has supported from the start.
The Post claims Obama's faith-based program, which doesn't allow discrimination in hiring, is a "sensible balance" between "strict separation of church and state types" and religious groups.
The newspaper writes that groups like AU expressed "dismay" over Obama's proposal, but in fact, our position and The Post's are not that far apart. AU has always insisted that no public funds subsidize religion. If faith-based charities partner with the government, they must agree not to preach or proselytize and they must not engage in discrimination in hiring. The government must have in place clear rules and regulations that ensure the separation of church and state.
The Post makes essentially the same point, concluding, "Groups that believe hiring only members of their own faith is essential to their social service mission would remain free to do so as long as they do not take federal funds."
Cracking down on discrimination in hiring should not be a huge obstacle for religious organizations, the Post claims. Most faith-based charitable groups have thrived for years without discriminating in hiring, the newspaper writes.
The Post is right about that, and so is the general American public. Seventy-seven percent of voters say that groups that receive federal funds should not be able to discriminate in hiring, according to a Quinnipiac University survey of 1,783 voters nationwide.
President George W. Bush's current faith-based initiative allows religious organizations to discriminate in hiring, despite receiving federal funding. We're glad to hear that both The Washington Post and the general American public want to put an end to Bush's program. It's about time.