I've been following HHS Sec'y Leavitt's efforts to expand protections for religious objectors to women's reproductive services for some time now. As I googled my usual daily search for "leavitt conscience regulation," I came across an article on Daily Kos: "Bush's Final Double Standard on Religious Discrimination."
I thought that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it unlawful for an employer to discriminate as to hiring, firing, compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. However, it seems that the Bush Administration quietly posted a ruling for a case involving a 2007 World Vision case in mid-October 2008 that allows taxpayer monies to be given to religious-based groups who hire as employees, only those who espouse their particular faith. In arriving at this ruling, I do believe they stretched their logic a bit in relying on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And ... if this ruling goes unchallenged, it will be a giant leap backwards.
I grew up in Utah as what I'll call an NCF (not of the common faith). Not only was I an NCF, but I was a female ... that meant two strikes against me when I got old enough to go out seeking my first job. It was common practice back then to see a block for "ward number" on the employment application. If you weren't a Mormon, you wouldn't belong to a ward, which meant you didn't have a Ward number nor a Bishop who would give you a recommendation for the job. Thus, you wouldn't receive a job interview, let alone an offer of employment. I finally managed to get a Catholic nun at the local hospital to hire me as a Nurse's Aide.
World Vision's Web site notes under its employment qualifications that U.S. applicants will be "screened for Christian commitment." How many more "religious-based" organizations will now follow World Vision's lead and begin discriminating on the basis of religion in their employment practices. This ruling in conjunction with Leavitt's proposed "conscience" regulation, would mean that Catholic nun at that Catholic hospital could now hire only Catholics ... since they purportedly should possess the same values as the Catholic administration.
• Bush Aides Say Religious Hiring Doesn’t Bar Aid
• Justice Department Permits World Vision's Hiring Policy