December 2017 Church & State - December 2016

HHS Department Pushes ‘Faith-Based’ Discrimination

  AU admin

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  has issued a formal request for information to help it figure out how to remove “barriers” it claims faith-based organi­zations face when seeking taxpayer funding.

Dena Sher, Americans United’s assistant legislative di­­-  r­ector, notes that this is another attempt by the Trump ad­min­istration to make it easier for taxpayer-funded organ­izations to use religion to discriminate.

“What HHS is really asking for, is how the agency needs to change its rules to allow religiously affiliated organiza­tions to discriminate with government funds, against who they hire and serve and in what services they provide,” Sher wrote in an Oct. 27 “Wall of Separation” blog post.

The Trump administration is following in the footsteps of the George W. Bush administration, which ordered a similar audit to identify all “existing barriers” it claimed faith-based organizations faced when they sought govern­ment funds to deliver social services.

Since no such barriers actually exist, Bush instead removed several church-state protections that had applied to government partnerships with faith-based organiza­tions. The Obama administration later reinstated some of these.

Sher emphasized the importance of faith-based organi­zations in American society, but reiterated that religi­ous freedom is not an excuse to discriminate.

“Effective government collaboration with these groups does not require the sanctioning of taxpayer-funded religious discrimination or sweeping exemptions that allow these groups to deny key services to certain populations,” she wrote.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

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