February 5, 2009
Report: Obama Will Delay Decision on Faith-based Initiatives
The Obama administration will delay a decision on whether religious groups who hire based on the religious background of job applicant can receive federal funding, the Associated Press reports.
The decision will impact whether evangelical groups like World Vision can receive money from the new White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
President Obama will order a legal review of hiring practices for faith-based groups currently participating in White House faith-based initiatives, the AP reports.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Obama will expand the mission to include abortion reduction and outreach to the Muslim world. Hiring issues should be decided on a case-by-case basis, Joshua DuBois, the 26-year-old former campaign advise told Laura Meckler.
"The president found one of the problems with the previous initiative was that tough questions were decided without appropriate consideration and data," DuBois told the WSJ. President Obama, he said, "doesn't have an interest in rushing questions that are so complex."
Instead, the president will sign an executive order making clear that the director of the new office should seek guidance from the Department of Justice on specific legal issues regarding "how to respect the Constitution" and nondiscrimination laws, Mr. DuBois said.
Dan Gilgoff at U.S. News & World Report writes that Obama's decision mirrors a central recommendation from a report released last December by the Brookings Institution, which recommended that the administration commission a study on the issue.
The study would focus on such questions as: When they are permitted by law or policy to do so, how many religious organizations actually do discriminate in employment matters on the basis of religion in federally-funded programs and activities? To what extent do they do so? Does such discrimination affect a small number of positions, or a larger share? Do religious providers view nondiscrimination obligations to be a hindrance or a help to their work? What does state and local law say on these matters, or what has been common practice? How easy is it for religious providers to segregate government funds from private funds for the payment of employees' salaries? Under various kinds of policies, how many federally-funded jobs would be off-limits to potential employees who did not share the organization's faith commitments?