JOB TRAINING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 02, 2005)
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Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this amendment. The 1964 Civil Rights Act explicitly protects the rights of religious organizations to take religion into account in their hiring practices. In fact, the Civil Rights Act made clear that when faith-based organizations hire employees on a religious basis, it is an exercise of the organization's civil liberties and does not constitute discrimination under Federal law.
The writers of that legislation understood that a church, a synagogue, a mosque all operate as distinctly religious organizations. They are, therefore, protected under the first amendment's right to the free exercise of religion.
Why are we being asked today, then, to approve an amendment that revokes the constitutional right of faith-based communities to practice their religions freely? This amendment would revoke the constitutionally protected right of faith-based groups to maintain their religious nature and character through those they hire. By denying the rights of religious organizations to hire according to their principles, this amendment declares war between the government and faith-based organizations, it cuts services for people in need, it eliminates the role of faith-based organizations in our government efforts to help.
I doubt that the gentleman from Virginia would support an amendment forcing him to hire staff who oppose his values and priorities as a legislator. Why then are we being asked to call it discriminatory when a Christian or Muslim charity wants to consider the beliefs of potential employees before hiring them? Such practices have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. If this amendment passes, we might as well revisit the Civil Rights Act itself, since we would be rewriting it today.
Faith-based providers cannot be expected to sustain their religious missions without the ability to employ individuals who share the tenets and practices of their faith. The success of any organization is having everyone on board with its essential principles and vision. The Civil Rights Act secures that right, the Supreme Court protected it, and we should follow suit.
This amendment should be defeated.
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