The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently asked for public comment on whether it should give new religious exemptions to faith-based org­ani­zations that accept taxpayer-funded grants and con­tracts to provide services to the public. In response, Amer­icans United let the agency know that it must reject faith-based discrim­ination.

HHS is essentially asking how the agency could change its rules to allow groups to use their own religious litmus test to decide whom to hire or serve, and what services to provide within HHS-funded programs.

Americans United told the agency that it’s a bad – and unconstitutional – idea to give these organizations religious exemptions that allow them to discriminate. AU also joined 44 of its allies in the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination in filing a response to this request for information.

“The focus of HHS-funded programs should be to assist individuals by increasing access to health care and critical human services. Denying individuals the services they need undermines the very purpose of these programs,” Maggie Garrett, AU’s legislative director, wrote in a Nov. 27 “Wall of Separation” blog post.

Garrett noted that AU is going to “be vigilant” in fighting against religion-based discrimination. Americans United sent HHS a Freedom of Information Act request to find out more about the Trump administration’s plans and will fight any attempts to use taxpayer dollars for discrimination.


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