Civil Rights Leader Calls Bush Executive Order Outrageous and Discriminatory

Media 12.13,02

Washington ? Calling it a setback for civil rights progress, Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition, today called on President Bush to rescind his ill-advised Executive Order allowing faith-based recipients of federal funds to engage in discrimination.

“We are deeply troubled by the President’s move to single-handedly re-write decades of civil rights law and allow recipients of federal funds to engage in discrimination,” said Henderson. “In the 60 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the first Executive Order prohibiting discrimination in federally funded activity, our nation has made significant progress in the struggle to end employment discrimination and advance equality. Any new federal funding program should further those goals, not impede them.”

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin,” said Henderson. “Under current law, a religious entity using private funds to hire persons of its own faith to advance their religious mission is exempt from Title VII’s anti-discrimination requirements. However, this exemption for privately-funded religious activity does not and should not extend to publicly funded programs,” Henderson stated.

“The distinction between publicly and privately funded activity is important and reinforces a bedrock principle of our nation’s civil rights policy: that federal civil rights obligations follow federal dollars, regardless of who receives them,” continued Henderson. “With this Executive Order, President Bush has made clear that he intends to allow federal tax dollars to support discrimination. This is an outrage. If the President chooses not to rescind this discriminatory order, then Congress needs to take action to repeal it and reinforce the principle that any organization that accepts federal funds is prohibited from engaging in employment discrimination in positions funded by taxpayer dollars.”