Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Protecting the Church’s Freedom

Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writes at the First Things blog On the Square:
On January 30, a coalition of social service providers gathered on the steps of the Colorado State Capitol. Ranging from Avista Adventist Hospital and the Denver Rescue Mission, which helps the homeless, to the Handprints Early Education Centers and Focus on the Family, the group had one thing in common. All of them were religiously based nonprofits offering some form of service to the general public. Among them was Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver, the largest nongovernment provider of social services in the Rocky Mountain region. And the source of their concern was a seemingly modest piece of state legislation, House Bill (HB) 1080.

Colorado HB 1080, pushed by the Anti-Defamation League after failing in a similar attempt last year, presents itself as an effort to bar discrimination. But the so-called “discrimination” HB 1080 targets is actually the legitimate freedom of religiously affiliated nonprofits to hire employees of like faith to carry out their mission. In practice, HB 1080 would strike down the freedom of Catholic Charities to preferentially hire Catholics for its leadership jobs if it takes state funds.

Of course, Catholic Charities can always decline public funds and continue its core mission with private money. In the Archdiocese of Denver, we’re ready to do exactly that. But the issues involved in HB 1080, and the troubling agenda behind it, are worth some hard reflection.


Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Archbishop Chaput: "How to Write a Really Bad Bill"

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