The House of Representatives today Ok'ed government endorsed discrimination based on religion. The issue at hand is Head Start. The House and Senate need to reauthorize the legislation that funds the program intended to break the cycle of poverty through better education. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of waste and mismanagement of the funds by the public and private organizations that receive Head Start money to run their kindergartens.
The House and Senate's initial intentions were to make the fund recipients more accountable for the monies received. A last minute amendment to the bill now allows faith based organizations who receive government money to discriminate in their hiring based on religion. Prior to the bills passage, no institution, public or private could discriminate.
This is not like government legalization of religious discrimination... This is government legalization of religious discrimination.
I have no objections to funds going to private faith based institutions for this program. But once you allow groups to hire based only on ones religion, you have crossed the line to state sponsored discrimination. If U.S. taxpayers money, collected from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others, is paying for the Head Start program, then any qualified American who pays taxes should be able to apply for open positions.
If you think that Congressmen earmarking money stops at highway bills, think again. If you think that congressmen won't start funneling money to their "favorite" religions, wake up and smell the coffee. I have said it 20 times before and I will say it 20 times again. The more that government gets entangled in religion, the more it will end up restricting our religious freedoms. Hopefully the Senate, which has not yet considered the bill, will have more common sense than the House.
House OKs Faith as Head Start Hiring Issue
By BEN FELLER, AP Education Writer
WASHINGTON - Churches and other religious groups are allowed to receive federal money to provide preschool to poor children. Now, the House says, they should be allowed to hire based on religion.
In a broad update of the Head Start program, the House voted Thursday to let preschool providers consider a person's faith when hiring workers — and still be eligible for federal grants. The Republican-led House said the move protects the rights of religious groups, but Democrats blasted it as discriminatory.
The debate over religion overshadowed the main parts of the bill, which had drawn bipartisan support.
Overall, the House bill would insert more competition into Head Start grants, require greater disclosure of how money is spent, and try to improve collaboration among educators in different grades.
Only 23 Democrats supported the House bill, which was approved 231-184. The vote on the amendment allowing the religion-based hiring was even tighter. It passed 220-196, with support from 10 Democrats.
Rep. John Boehner (news, bio, voting record) of Ohio, the Republican chairman of the House Education Committee, said the bill ensures that faith-based centers "aren't forced to choose between relinquishing their identities or being shut out of the program altogether."
Launched in the 1960s, the nearly $7 billion Head Start program provides comprehensive education to more than 900,000 poor children. Though credited for getting kids ready for school, Head Start has drawn scrutiny as cases of financial waste and questions about academic quality have surfaced nationwide.
Yet most of the debate Thursday was not about oversight. It was about religion and civil rights.
The Republican plan would, for example, allow a Catholic church that provides Head Start services to employ only Catholic child-care workers, and to reject equally qualified workers of other religions.