Editorial: Federal Funds to Restrictive Churches

March 23, 2003

Source: St. Petersburg Times

On March 23, 2003 the St. Petersburg Times printed an editorial stating that "to get a job as a residential counselor/houseparent at the United Methodist Children's Home in Decatur, Ga., you have to be at least 21 years old, a high school graduate and 'a professing Christian.' The job announcement goes on to explain that while non-Christians 'have done much good in our world,' the Children's Home is 'an agency of a Christian Church' and in order to preserve that identity, only Christians will be hired... You have to appreciate the honesty here. The Children's Home makes no bones about it. If you are the wrong faith, your experience and abilities are irrelevant... We Americans generally like to consider ourselves religiously tolerant and, as such, we may bristle at the exclusionary hiring practices of the Children's Home. After all, it isn't advertising for a pastor, where such a stricture would be warranted. Even so, another aspect of our society's tolerance is a credo allowing religions to make rules for themselves without government interference. Federal antidiscrimination law, for example, grants religious institutions a special exemption so they may exclusively hire followers of their faith, even when the positions to be filled have little or nothing to do with directing worship services."