Sunday, February 8, 2015

Indiana Allows Discrimination Towards Employees

Travis Holdman
Indiana State Senator Travis Holdman recently proposed Senate Bill 127, which stated that religious-offiliated organizations, such as hospitals, universities, or daycares, were now able to discriminate potential employees based on their religion and would require those that were hired to follow certain religious tenants. The bill would allow these organizations to do so while still receiving state contracts.

Holdman, a Republican, claims that the reasoning behind the newly passed bill (Senate Bill 127) was to assist the Indiana Wesleyan University, a private, Christian, liberal arts college that is connected with the Wesleyan Church, in receiving state workforce training grants. Just last year, the University was questioned the school's religious lifestyle mandate, which violated state contracting requirements against employment discrimination. Regardless, the bill was easily passed last Tuesday by the predominantly republican senate with a vote of 39 to 11

Senator Holdman is continuing to claim that this does not give these religious organizations an excuse to discriminate, but instead will help them make their organizations a smooth success. "It's not a legal license to discriminate" Holdman said. "It just says we're going to pull ourselves in line with federal law that allows for this kind of carve out, this kind of exemption, for faith based organizations." Holdman also stated his concern that Indiana relies on many religious organizations for a variety and services, and that this bill will ensure that the organizations continue to succeed and benefit the people of the state. 

Opponents of Senate Bill 127 are infuriated. Fellow Indiana senator Karen Tallian argues that the language of the bill would allow employers to go against federal laws. "This is outrageous" Tallian exclaimed. "How many tenants must you conform to? Do you have to go to church every Sunday? Can you eat meat on a Friday?" Other's argue that these religious organizations could easily continue to show bias in who they hire, as long as they no longer continue to receive public funding. "Once a religious institution takes public funding or bids on public projects, they should then have to follow the rules like public businesses do in regards to discrimination based on any trait-- sex, race, gender, sexual and gender orientation, etc." stated Chris Paulsen, spokeswoman for Indiana Equality Action. Questions for this bill have risen quickly, such as will employers be able to ask potential candidates about private and personal matters, such as their use of birth control? 

I personally feel that Senate Bill 127 should not have been passed by the state of Indiana, or by any state in the future, as it promotes discrimination towards people, people of the public, who basically fund these organizations. If these faith-based hospitals, universities, daycares, or other corporations are receiving public funding, they should not be allowed to pick and choose who they hire based on the person's religious beliefs, nor should they force their employees to follow religious tenants. If they wish to do so, they should no longer be granted state contracts from the public. These groups are being funded by people of different religions and have no problem taking money from other groups of faith, yet they do not wish for others to work for them unless they have the same beliefs. I believe that these organizations are trying to take advantage of the best of both worlds, or as some would say, "have their cake and eat it too." Either these organizations need to stop receiving public funding and continue to discriminate their employees, or they should hire people of any beliefs without requiring them to follow certain faith practices and still be granted public funding. It can't be both. 

Do you think religious organizations should be allowed to show bias towards who they hire based on religious beliefs if they are receiving money from the public? Do you think this bill should have been passed? 


Libby W said...

I agree with the author that this should not be allowed. The fact that these religious organizations are receiving public funding means that they should somewhat act as a public institution that cannot discriminate based on any factor. The places funding the religious organizations should also not be sponsoring this type of activity because it ends up with them acting as promoting one particular religion which goes against the First Amendment. I agree that the organizations can discriminate on their own, but not when they are tied up with public funding.

Courtney W. said...

I do not think that this bill should be allowed. I think it clearly goes against “the separation of church and state,” since the organizations are receiving state funding. It also seems to be an opening for religious discrimination. The main reason it seems unconstitutional to me is because the state is giving them money. They should not be allowed to discriminate solely because they are receiving state funding.

Abby Copp said...

I agree that this bill should not have been passed. Even though the institution is providing a service to the public, that does not mean that it should receive state governmental funding, as that violates the Establishment clause. Just like Molly said, a decision needs to be made between receiving funding and not being able to discriminate, or losing their funding and running their organization however they please.