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Christian Colleges Doomed By Obama’s No-Exceptions LGBT Hiring Order

Christian colleges that require workers to adhere to a traditional definition of marriage and sexuality won’t be eligible as federal contractors under an executive order signed today by President Obama, as expected.

The order bars companies that do federal work from discriminating against employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity, The Chicago Tribune reported. It does not include a widely requested exemption for religious groups, such as Christian colleges and Catholic hospitals.

Some of the signatories on a letter asking Obama for that exemption have given the president a pass.

Michael Wear, who directed faith outreach for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, said the order respected “the religious identity” of organizations partnering with the federal government, while Stephen Schneck, head of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at Catholic University of America, said the White House “has left open a path that religious groups can work with,” Religion News Service reported.

Signatories to the letter, including the president of evangelical Gordon College, had asked Obama to simply give them the same exemption found in a Senate-approved bill, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

The order is “nothing less than viewpoint blackmail that bullies into silence every contractor and subcontractor who has moral objections to homosexual behavior,” the Family Research Council said in a blistering statement.

“This order gives activists a license to challenge their employers and expose those employers to threats of costly legal proceedings and the potential of jeopardizing future contracts,” the group said.

Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee, told The Daily Caller that Obama probably signed an exemption-free order “to prevent ENDA from passing with [a] religious exemption, because then the two would be in direct conflict” and the Supreme Court would have to sort them out.

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IMAGE: White House

About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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  • professor plum

    I appreciate that this article highlights the significant consequences for the many faith-based institutions of higher education. Obama’s alleged “compromise” in his Executive Order allows these schools to continue to accept or reject prospective employees on the basis of religion, but bars them from excluding these applicants on the basis of their sexual orientation or beliefs about same. This is in contrast to the opinion of SCOTUS which allows organizations to make employee policies according to their central or core religious beliefs. Such freedom will no longer protected for colleges/universities whose faith opposes the beliefs and practices of LGBT persons. Losing the ability to exclude LGBT employees goes against the foundational principles of their faith and hence their identity as religious schools.