Religious Rights Debate Swirls Around Head Start Legislation

September 30, 2005

Source: Beliefnet / Scripps-Howard News Service

On September 30, 2005 Scripps-Howard News Service reported, "Another scuffle in the debate over religious rights and public money is under way, and the venue this time is the schoolrooms of some of the nation's low-income youngsters. At issue is a last-minute provision tacked on last week to the House reauthorization of the federal Head Start educational program for disadvantaged kids who need a boost before starting elementary school. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, crafted an amendment that would allow faith-based groups that take Head Start money to consider the religious beliefs of potential employees when deciding who to hire. That means some otherwise qualified applicants could be turned down because they are not followers of the church or other entity offering Head Start classes... Boehner and some Christian groups say such selectivity is a matter of religious freedom. But others contend that it amounts to religious discrimination, which disqualifies any group from receiving taxpayers' money."