In his August 18 article, Jim Towey, former director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, writes that “Obama wants to abandon President Bush’s — and President Clinton’s — efforts to protect the right to hire on a religious basis of faith-based charities that provide taxpayer-funded social services.”
What are these alleged rights? Towey thinks recipients of federal dollars should be able to “hire on a religious basis,” yet “[f]or decades, religious charities have had to knuckle under to the directives of the federal government if they wanted public money.”
Religious groups do not have any right to other people’s money redistributed by force.
Whether or not faith-based groups discriminate on the basis of religion when hiring, they should not receive a single cent of tax money. To forcibly redistribute money to religious groups from those who do not wish to fund them violates the latter group’s rights of property and conscience.
Towey writes, “Planned Parenthood receives bundles of federal money and hires only the like-minded. Why are faith groups held to a different standard?” Towey’s argument is disingenuous; there is no “different standard.” Planned Parenthood does not discriminate on the basis of religion, and the fact that opponents of abortion choose not to work there is their own choice. Regardless, the relevant standard is that government ought neither promote nor hinder religion. Spending tax dollars for faith-based purposes clearly violates this standard. I agree that it’s wrong for Planned Parenthood to receive tax dollars. But the first wrong does not justify state support of religious organizations.