Sunday, February 8, 2015

Proposed Bill Would Allow Religious-Affiliated Organizations that Receive Public Funding To Discriminate in Hiring

Article can be found here: http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/02/indiana-senate-poised-allow-hiring-based-religion/22759821/

A proposed bill in Indiana had created great controversy. Senate Bill 127 is intended to allow those who run religious-affiliated organizations to have greater protection in hiring, specifically when it comes to religion. Religious-affiliated organizations that receive public funding, including hospitals and  universities, would be allowed to discriminate in hiring based on the organization's religious views and beliefs. Additionally, the bill would allow these organizations and employers to require that employees follow the organization's religious creeds and tenets.

Social Conservatives have generally supported the bill, which is set to be voted on this week. They claim that an organization with religious ties should not be directed or influenced by the state. They say that the First Amendment protects religious organizations by allowing them to hire whomever they want with no government interference or burden. If an organization does not want to hire someone who doesn't support their mission, then why should they? Religious-affiliated organizations and businesses should be able to maintain their religious identity while providing social services using public funding.

Liberals have, for the most part, opposed the bill. They claim that an organization receiving public funding should not be allowed to discriminate against those who do not share the organization's religious views. If a religious-affiliated organization is using money that the public and state have funded, the organization has a responsibility to treat all people of all kinds equally. The government has an interest in overseeing that organizations that are run with the help of the public are not discriminating against any group, an interest that does not conflict with any First Amendment protections.

I think that the most important part of the bill to take into consideration is the fact that these organizations are receiving public funds. If these organizations are going to use state funds, I believe that they have an obligation to support the public as a whole. If these organizations were to use only private money for their endeavors, then they should be allowed to run as they please. Once they take money from the public, however, they should be forced to run as public businesses do. A homosexual, for example, should not have to help fund an organization's project while that organization has the freedom to reject that homosexual's application based on his/her personal or religious beliefs. The First Amendment protects religions and religious organizations from state interference when those groups are practicing or organizing privately, but the same does not hold true for when those religions or organizations are connected to the public monetarily. These organizations have a duty to hire people of all beliefs and religions if those people are to pay for the organization's projects. The government has a compelling interest to make sure that everyone is treated equally in a case like this.

As for the part of the bill that would allow these organizations to force employees to follow its practices and beliefs, how can it be decided if an employee has properly or successfully followed the organization's tenets? It seems as if the religious organization would have to delve into its employees' personal lives to an extent that boarders on privacy invasion if it wanted to see if the employee truly followed religious tenets. How can the organization know whether the employee took birth control or not? How about if the employee attended church or not?

This bill seems both unconstitutional and confusing. Do you believe that all religious-affiliated organizations should be able to discriminate in hiring, no matter where there funding comes from? Are these organizations protected by the First Amendment? And should the employees have to conform to religious tenets, or is would this requiring too much of employees?

4 comments:

Morgan Manchester said...

I agree with the author of this blog post and believe that so long as the organizations are receiving public funding than they are under an obligation to not discriminate against certain groups and must therefore hire their employees accordingly. If the institutions were private than they would have much more of an ability to be selective in their hiring but by them choosing to receive public funding than they should be giving up their right to discriminate as a way to protect the public and their money. Lastly, religious affiliated organizations are often not just religious institutions. They often are hospitals or universities and therefore do not have the sole purpose of promoting their religion, nor do they have an obligation to serve only those whom are religiously affiliated. As such, the organizations should not be allowed to discriminate in their hiring practices.

brian regan said...

I agree that the biggest problem here is the fact that these organizations are publicly funded. You can't force every member of the public to fund a project equally then turn around and use that project to discriminate based on religious beliefs. I believe it should have to be one or the other. If these organizations continue to receive public funding, they should not be allowed to discriminate based on religion. If they would like to continue discriminating i believe they should have to fund themselves privately rather than letting the taxpayers foot the bill.

Brandon Farrell said...

As other comments have already stated, if this organization is receiving funding from the state they are not able to discriminate in the hiring process. A portion of this religious organization's funding is coming from tax payers therefore, they are allowed to discriminate based solely on religion. They are not allowed to discriminate on other protected categories like national origin, race, gender. I agree with Morgan that it is key to identify what the purpose of the is religious organization is. How does it operate on a daily basis? Is it a for-profit organization? This helps to clear up what its true purpose serves and help to justify the discrimination taking place.

Nate Hunter said...

I agree that an organization or business that is receiving public funds should not have the right to refuse the hiring of those whose religious views don’t align with theirs. To me that is a clear violation of the establishment clause, and reminds me of the case we discussed in class with the catholic school children and reimbursements of bus fares. I still stand my ground in that why should my tax dollars go to an organization where I cant even apply for a job if I don’t prescribe to that specific religion? I think that any organization or business that is not funded by the government has every right to refuse to hire someone if their views aren’t in line with the overall mission of that organization, but to me, when taxpayer dollars are added into the scenario I contend that that is a breach of the establishment clause.