The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: (202) 466-3234,Joe Conn,Rob Boston,Sandhya Bathija

Americans United, Allies Urge Federal Appeals Court to Rehear Case Challenging Religiously Based Hiring Bias

Religious Groups That Accept Tax Funding Should Not Be Able to Fire Staff for Being the ‘Wrong’ Religion, Says AU’s Lynn


Americans United for Separation of Church and State and allied groups have
asked a federal appellate court to reconsider a decision dealing with religious
bias in hiring at publicly funded "faith-based" charities.

9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled recently that World Vision, an
evangelical Christian relief agency, had the right to fire workers who hold
views that conflict with the agency's religious viewpoint.

case was brought by three former employees in Washington state who are
Christian, but do not subscribe to all the doctrinal points in World Vision's
statement of belief.

Americans United is concerned that the court did not give adequate
consideration to the fact that World Vision received 29 percent of its 2009
budget of $1.2 billion from government sources.

In a friend-of-the-court
, AU and allied organizations have asked the judges who decided Spencer
v. World Vision, Inc
. - or the entire 9th U.S. Circuit - to rehear the case
to make it clear that allowing publicly funded groups like World Vision to
discriminate in employment on religious grounds raises serious church-state

"Religious groups have the right to impose theological requirements on staff in
privately funded positions, but when tax money enters the picture, that must
change," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive
director. "No one should be denied a taxpayer-funded job for being the
'wrong' religion. That makes a mockery of our nation's commitment to
eradicating discrimination."

In addition
to Americans United, other groups joining the Sept. 17 friend-of-the-court
brief include The Interfaith Alliance Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League
and the American Humanist Association.

brief was drafted by Bradley Meissner of the law firm DLA Piper and by Ayesha
N. Khan, Americans United's legal director.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.