Group says WH could use pro-gay nondiscrimination order to hammer Christian employers

WASHINGTON (June 17, 2014) – The White House says President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but it’s unclear if there will be a religious exemption.

Obama hoped that Congress would pass a broader non-discrimination measure that would apply to nearly all employers. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch called on the White House to include the same religious exemptions in the executive order that are included in legislation the Senate passed but which is stalled in the House. The bill includes exemptions for churches and other houses of worship, as well as religiously affiliated organizations.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, says if there’s no religious exemption, some Christian and Jewish charities will have to either violate their faith or withdraw from federal contracts.

AFA: Gov’t could use ‘faith’ to discriminate

In a statement released today, American Family Association president Tim Wildmon emphasized that the move would further threaten religious liberties for Christian business owners.

“This Executive Order will have a sweeping effect on conscience- and faith-driven businesses. If the proposed order is issued, a Christian who owns a business that contracts with the federal government will not be able to use homosexuality or transgender identity as factor in employment decisions, regardless of the business owner’s faith convictions. Meanwhile, the government would be able to use ‘faith’ as the basis for discriminating against potential contractors.

“Furthermore, religious organizations that contract with the government to provide social services such as adoption assistance, disaster relief, health care navigation, preschool education, drug rehabilitation and prison ministry, would be required to hire homosexuals against their convictions. Other ramifications of this order could be that government contractors would be required to provide special restroom facilities for transgendered employees.

“But it goes even beyond this. The existing Executive Order that governs employment nondiscrimination by federal contractors requires that the contractors maintain an Affirmative Action Program actively to recruit members of protected groups. If lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals are now considered a ‘protected group,’ then what’s to stop the government from trying to force Christian businesses to actively recruit them as the price of contracting with the federal government?

“As we have said before, we firmly believe in the right of private companies to hire or not hire whomever they choose, without government coercion.”

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