Americans United and 91 organizations sent congressional leaders a letter to express strong opposition to a House of Representatives bill provision that would authorize taxpayer-funded discrimination in federal contracts and grants.
“The government should not fund discrimination and no taxpayer should be disqualified from a job under a federal contract or grant because he or she is the ‘wrong’ religion,” the Aug. 25 letter asserted.
The provision was inserted into Section 1094 of the House version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4909). It is not found in the Senate version (S. 2943).
Organizations that signed the letter acknowledged the role religiously affiliated institutions play in addressing the country’s social needs, while emphasizing that religion should not be used to discriminate.
“We also recognize that the separation of church and state is the linchpin of religious freedom,” the letter continued. “In our view, effective government collaboration with faith-based groups does not require the sanctioning of federally funded religious discrimination.”
The letter, sent under the auspices of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, which AU chairs, notes that six Democrats and four Republicans attempted to remove this section from the defense bill by submitting an amendment to the House Rules Committee, but the committee did not allow the full House to vote on it.
AU continues work to ensure that the final bill does not contain this troubling provision.