The NYTimes is Wrong on Faith-Based Hiring

 |  NCR Today

The New York Times editorialized yesterday against allowing faith-based organizations to discriminate in hiring, urging President Obama to rescind a prior rule by the Bush administration that held such discrimination was permissible. There is a case to be made that the Bush regulations were overbroad, but the Times is wrong to argue that faith-based institutions should not be able to consider an applicant’s religion in hiring.

You can’t have a Catholic organization, or a Methodist one, for very long unless it actually has Catholics, or Methodists. The identity of an institution, especially a religious institution, must be rooted in the shared beliefs of its members. This is one of the enduring lessons of the collapse of the religious identity of many colleges and universities. No one is suggesting a religious test for public office which would clearly violate the First Amendment. But the Sisters of Charity are permitted to run their hospitals with their own sisters and to hire those who share the Church’s commitment to the poor because it is rooted in their shared faith in the healing ministry of Jesus.

This issue does not need to be an either/or as the Times suggests. Colleges and universities are permitted to give preferential treatment in accepting the applications of children of alumni for largely the same reasons churches should be able to hire their own in their ministries. Such “discrimination” helps build institutional identity. The religious identification of an applicant need not be the only consideration, nor should it be. A drug counselor better be a good listener and the treatment will be more effective if that good listener is of a different religion, but if two equally good listeners are up for a job, and one of them is also of the same religion as the organization that sponsors the drug counseling, religious organizations should be able to show a preference for that person.

Christmas-NCR-gifts-half_0.jpgGive a subscription to our award-winning newspaper and save $10.

There are other organizations that maintain their identity without infringing upon anyone’s rights. Women’s colleges and historically black colleges come to mind. The Times is being too absolutist in its stance and we should hope that the President does not follow their recommendation.

Support independent reporting on important issues.

 One family graphic_2016_250x103.jpg


NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

Commenting is available during business hours, Central time, USA. Commenting is not available in the evenings, over weekends and on holidays. More details are available here. Comments are open on NCR's Facebook page.



NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017