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An email from a local peace activist just appeared in my inbox.  Among the items was a letter covering information in which some here may be interested:
The US House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 27, "The Job Training Improvement Act," next week. This is the first vote on the faith-based initiative in 2005 and a crucial vote for the 109th congress.Simply put, this Bill allows religious organizations receiving federal tax dollars for their job training programs to discriminate based on religion when hiring staff.

and continues:
This represents a dramatic shift in government policy towards religion as it repeals longstanding civil rights protections which have traditionally protected people of faith and goodwill from religious employment discrimination in federally funded job training programs.

TAKE ACTION
Contact your Representative and let them know an amendment to reinstate civil rights protections may be offered on the House floor by Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA).  This civil rights amendment should be supported and if the protections are not reinstated, this Bill should be defeated.Taxpayer dollars should not be used to discriminate against employees because of their religion or religious beliefs.  Tell your representative that you don't want taxpayers to subsidize religious discrimination in publicly-funded job training programs.

Thank you for your continual support of the mission of The Interfaith Alliance.Warm Regards,
Rev. C. Welton Gaddy
President, The Interfaith Alliance

PS . . .You can also call your Representative at 1-877-762-8762 (Capitol Switchboard).  Once connected to your Representative's office, please leave this message: "As your constituent, I urge you to support the Scott amendment to the Jobs Training Improvement Act/H.R. 27 that would restore civil rights protections.   If an amendment like this fails, I urge you to oppose the Job Training Improvement Act/H.R. 27 because it is an unjustified assault on civil rights protections in federally funded job training programs."

I might not think there were legal grounds to fight such a thing were I not currently reading "Freethinkers" by Susan Jacoby (Owl Books).  I'm not too far into it but from what I've read the Constitutional framers went to great pains to ensure the federal government could not--and would not at any time--be enabled to exact a tax for the benefit of a religious organiztion.  

The separation of church and state was clearly designed to ensure secularists, agnostics, atheists and atypical or nonrelgious citizens would not be excluded from particiating in, or protection by, the government on the basis of their philosophies.  Separation also serves to protect minority and fringe faiths of all types from abuse (exclusion or attack) by the government were it backed by one faith (think--as the framers were--of the Church of England, for example).

Therefore, the distribution of tax dollars to faith-based groups that can side-step EEOC law are acting as religious not public groups.  Granting government funding to them becomes a tax on citizens for a religious institution.  Isn't funding them unconstitutional?  

Originally posted to clb8 on Sat Feb 26, 2005 at 11:15 AM PST.

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