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-9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Hiring Rights of Christian Charity

by Dr. D ~ January 25th, 2011

World Vision logo (www.worldvision.org)
( by Zooomabooma via Flickr)

Today (1/25/11) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rights of Religious non-profit organizations to hire people who share their same faith and a prescribed set of beliefs.

Here’s an official statement by World Vision concerning today’s action:

World Vision applauds today’s action by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, upholding our legally protected practice of hiring people who share the same faith.

The court rejected a petition to re-hear a case involving three former employees terminated in 2007 because, after several years working for the Christian humanitarian organization, they no longer agreed with World Vision U.S.’s statement of faith. The court ruled 2-1 last August that World Vision qualifies as a religious organization under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, thereby, upholding the terminations. We hope today’s action by the court settles this dispute.

Our Christian faith has been the foundation of our work since the organization was established in 1950, and our hiring policy is vital to the integrity of our mission to serve the poor as followers of Jesus Christ.

Regardless of any further legal proceedings, World Vision will continue to vigorously defend our organization’s freedom to hire employees who share our faith, as do other religious organizations, whether Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian.

Response: This is an important and necessary ruling. Religious organizations, missions, and charities need to be able to define their own requirements for membership and employment. Otherwise the character of the organizations themselves would be destroyed and their mission potentially altered.

Should Jewish organizations be forced to hire Christians or should Muslim groups be lead by Jews or Buddhists? How about Catholic charities? Should they be forced to take on qualified Protestants or Mormon social programs –Evangelicals who actually oppose Mormonism? If so than many valuable religious faith organizations and charities would cease to function.

Freedom of religion should trump other employment considerations when it comes to religious organizations.            *Top of the Blog

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3 Responses to -9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Hiring Rights of Christian Charity

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  2. Bob

    The issue isn’t whether orgs can hire based on religion to preserve their religious character, it’s whether groups that get government funds can so discriminate. Religion is a protected class, like race or gender. Just as one wouldn’t say it’s okay for a social service agency not to hire an African American to be a case manager to preserve the white character of their org, it shouldn’t be okay to not hire a Jew or Muslim to perform government funded social services. If you’re providing taxpayer-funded services that cannot be religious in nature anyway, then why should it matter if the person performing the service is of your faith? If World Vision wants to give back its $300 million government dollars, then they can hire who they want!

  3. Dr. D

    Bob,
    Thanks for your comment however you are incorrect. Use of government funding had no part in the actual case. The whole case revolved around whether World Vision qualified for a religious exemption- at least that was the issue according to the ruling. Here’s a link to an article I wrote at the time of the original ruling and also a quote from one of the Justices including a summary of the ruling:

    According to 9th Circuit Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain:

    “If Congress had intended to restrict the exemption to ‘[c]hurches, and entities similar to churches’ it could have said so. Because Congress did not, some religious corporations, associations, and societies that are not churches must fall within the exemption.”

    It stated in the majority opinion that a “nonprofit entity” like World Vision qualifies as religious if it:

    “1) is organized for a self-identified religious purpose…

    2) is engaged in activity consistent with, and in furtherance of, those religious purposes, and

    3) holds itself out to the public as religious.”

    According to the 9th circuit ruling World Vision meets these criteria.

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