Why President Obama Should Provide an Exemption for Religious Organizations in his Executive Order Banning Discrimination Against Homosexuals

Amid Worldwide Turmoil, Obama Takes Off for Camp David

On Monday, President Obama will sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discrimination against homosexuals in their hiring practices. Obama has decided to issue the executive order because his efforts to get ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) passed in Congress have failed thus far.  According to the Associated Press, the executive order will affect about 24,000 companies with 28 million employees or about 20% of the nation’s workforce.

The “federal contractors” affected by the order happen to include religious and faith-based aid organizations and charities which receive a portion of their funding from the government.


On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, fourteen religious leaders sent a letter to President Obama asking him to include an exemption for religious organizations who wish to hire workers who share their religious beliefs and practices. The letter was signed by: Rick Warren, the California megachurch pastor who prayed at Obama’s inauguration; Joel Hunter, one of Obama’s “spiritual advisers”; Michael Wear, Obama’s 2012 campaign faith outreach director; as well as other Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders.


The letter argues quite reasonably that because “we still live in a nation with different beliefs about sexuality, we must find a way to respect diversity of opinion.” It goes on to state that “An executive order that does not include a religious exemption will significantly and substantively hamper the work of some religious organizations that are best equipped to serve in common purpose with the federal government.”


Hobby Lobby’s victory in the recent Supreme Court case shows that the rights and consciences of religious-based organizations and their owners must be respected in a free and democratic society. The government runs the risk of shooting itself in the foot by forcing religious organizations who oppose the homosexual lifestyle to hire homosexuals or transgendered individuals. This will cause problems for both sides.


For the government, many religious organizations may decide to reject federal funding so that they are not obligated to abide by President Obama’s executive order. Thus, the government will lose its cooperation with organizations that can do and have done a much better job at meeting the needs of various communities throughout the country. Even if an organization does not choose to opt out of government funding, that organization’s supporters may demand that the entity abide by the religious principles it espouses.


Don’t think that it can’t happen. World Vision, a huge Christian aid group that received $179 million from the government in 2013, announced a few months back that it would open the door to hiring people who were in same-sex marriages. However, World Vision’s donors protested loudly and the organization reversed that ill-conceived decision within a couple of days.


Religious organizations which continue to receive federal funding after Obama signs his order face an even greater threat of litigation. If a group declines to hire someone or fire someone based on their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”, they will be at risk of a lawsuit. Undoubtedly, homosexual rights groups will deliberately target religious-based organizations in order to launch test cases that would force those organizations to pay enormous fines, be shut down for failure to comply with the order, or cease to receive government funding.


In their letter to the President, the fourteen faith leaders used Obama’s own words to show that there is no need to force charity organizations to hire in violation of their values. When he launched the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, President Obama said, “Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted…to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.” If that is President Obama’s true goal (and the goal of the government), there is no need to try to use this executive order banning discrimination in hiring to push the homosexual agenda on organizations that wish to operate in accordance with their long-held biblical beliefs and values.


–BCNN1 Editors

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