Nadler Amendment Would Prohibit Faith-Based Discrimination

Feb 3, 2004

Washington, DC -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today offered an amendment to legislation that reauthorizes the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), a federal block grant to states and local agencies for a variety of antipoverty activities. The Nadler amendment would correct provisions in the current law that permit religious organizations that receive Community Services Block Grants to discriminate in their hiring practices based on religion.

"No one should ever see a sign on a federally funded program that says 'no Catholics need apply,' or 'no Jews need apply,' or 'no Presbyterians need apply.' That is what the Community Services Block Grant program currently allows," said Nadler.

Community Development Block Grants help communities provide employment, housing, nutrition, and education services to low-income families. Yet when the legislation was last authorized in 1998, a provision to allow employment discrimination was inserted into the bill in the dead of night without any hearings or a debate.

The Nadler amendment to the reauthorization of the Community Services Block Grant program would allow faith-based organizations to continue to receive the federal grants, but would prohibit the organizations from employment discrimination based on a person's religion, as it was from 1964 to 1998.

"Discrimination is not the American way. Asking someone about their religion in a job interview is simply wrong. Asking people what they believe before they can feed the poor, help the homeless or provide protection to battered families is immoral. By saying that this practice is okay, the federal government has betrayed one of our most cherished values," said Nadler.

Nadler offered the amendment with Representatives Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), George Miller (D-CA), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rob Andrews (D-NJ), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).