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Job Training Improvement Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC

JOB TRAINING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 02, 2005)


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Chairman, the history is ambiguous. Courts have been on both sides. The principle is what is involved. We are told that if we adopt this amendment, we are denying the liberty to religious organizations. The liberty that is being asked, frankly I am disappointed to hear this asserted, and I think the greatest denigration of religious organizations coming forward here are those who are saying this: there are religious groups in this country who are eager to help people in need, but if they get Federal tax dollars to help people in need and they are forced to associate with heathens and unbelievers and infidels, then they will be driven away.

What is so terrible about saying to the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn who were cited, you want to help the people in Brooklyn, the people you want to help will be black and Hispanic, they will be white and poor and Jewish and Christian, if you really want to help them, on your own, whatever you want to do, you can do. But if you want all of those people in Brooklyn who paid Federal taxes, if you want a share of their Federal taxes to run a program to help them, God forbid, I guess you mean this literally, God forbid you should have to hire one of them.

Martin Luther King said, and it is sadly still true, that one of the most segregated times in America is the hour of worship. So understand that when you empower the religious groups to discriminate based on religion, you will also de facto empower some segregation. Those Orthodox Jewish groups in Brooklyn will hire very few black people in Brooklyn. And if in fact you have a policy that says all the money is going to go in these areas to the religious groups, then what about people who are not religious? The Constitution says you should not discriminate against them. You may not think much of them, but you should not be discriminating against them, but they cannot ever get a job.

And you talk about message. I love this message. What we are going to be saying if you win here in the House of Representatives is, attention all Shiites, do not hire Sunnis. That is your principle. Apparently, we are going to be encouraging the people in Iraq with Iraqi Government money or American Government money, a lot of it is going to Iraq, do you really think you want to send that message to the Shiites that when they try to rebuild their country they should not hire Sunnis?

And what are you saying? That there is something somehow so corrosive about associating with someone of a different religion that it disables you from doing good? What kind of motivation do you impute to these people? You want to do good, but you should not have to associate with one of those people. By the way, even you acknowledge that the people being served have to be of all religions. So this religious purity that apparently is so essential has already been dissolved.

But here is the point: we are being asked to say to Americans, yes, you will pay taxes for this; but the taxes you pay, you are not eligible for a job because you believe in the wrong God. Or you believe in God in the wrong way. You believe in the wrong denomination. Or you do not believe. Again, what are you saying? Is it really the case that religious organizations, that they are somehow so angry towards outsiders, that they feel so unclean that they cannot help people in need if they have to associate with people who are otherwise perfectly qualified, who believe in the mission of this entity, but they do not share the same religion?

I hope we will not so characterize religious people as being so narrow and so biased towards people not of their own religion that they cannot even work with them in this common cause to which you say they are committed.


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