House Members, Secular Coalition Urge Obama to End Religious Bias in Hiring

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a press conference today, members of the U.S. House, the Secular Coalition for America, and the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) will call upon President Obama to fulfill the promise he made nearly three years ago during a campaign speech in Zanesville, Ohio, to end federally funded hiring discrimination on the basis of religion.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first executive order prohibiting employment discrimination in government contracts on June 25, 1949. President Lyndon B. Johnson strengthened these protections by signing Executive Order 11246 in 1965. In 2002, however, President George W. Bush signed an executive order carving out an exemption that allows religious organizations receiving federal contracts to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.

During his Zanesville campaign speech on July 1, 2008, President Obama promised to end this exemption, saying, “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of religion.”  More than two years into Obama’s presidency, however, this practice is still in place.

“With the stroke of a pen, President Obama can keep his commitment to ending religious discrimination in hiring,” said Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, who will be in attendance at the press conference. “No congressional action is needed to right this wrong.  The president simply needs to issue an executive order. We urge President Obama to live up to his campaign promise to end federally funded religious discrimination in hiring by restoring Executive Order 11246 without further delay.”

Who:  Reps. Bobby Scott, John Conyers, Jr., George Miller, Jerrold Nadler, Barney Frank, Melvin Watt, Carolyn McCarthy, Chris Van Hollen

Press conference and briefing, "Celebrating 70 Years of a Civil Rights Milestone & A Call to Restore Religious Liberty Protections"

2226 Rayburn House Office Building

When: June 21, 2011 at 3 p.m. (Briefing to follow 3:30 to 5 p.m.)


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