Should taxpayers be forced to subsidize social service programs that discriminate in hiring on religious grounds?
Most Americans would quickly and emphatically say, "No!" If taxpayers of all faiths (and none) are paying for a program, taxpayers of all faiths (and none) should be eligible to work there. Applicants should be judged on their qualifications, not their theological opinions.
Yet former President George W. Bush allowed exactly that kind of job bias in publicly funded programs run by faith-based agencies.
President Barack Obama, as a candidate, said hiring discrimination in government-subsidized endeavors is wrong and vowed to put a stop to it. However, when he announced his version of the faith-based initiative on Feb. 5, he didn't act to overturn the Bush-era rules. He is now under increasing pressure to keep his promise.
Yesterday, The Washington Post joined the chorus.
"Mr. Obama has no power to unilaterally change statutes and faith-based programs created by Congress," The Post concluded. "But he has broad flexibility to dictate how money that flows from his White House initiative is doled out. He should insist that groups that accept funds from his initiative abide by anti-discrimination laws. If this proves too onerous for some groups, they should simply not accept the money."
The Post now joins The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and a host of religious, civil rights and civil liberties groups in asking the president to apply sensible civil rights safeguards to his faith-based agenda.
Let's hope The Post editorial gives him one more reason to do so soon.
If you have not yet contacted the White House to give your views on this issue, do so today.