My friend Stanley Carlson-Thies was for a long time associated with the Center for Public Justice in Annapolis, Maryland, and served in the Bush White House in 2001-2 in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Now he is leading the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), whose mandate is “to safeguard the religious identity and faith-shaped standards and services of faith-based organizations, enabling them to make their distinctive and best contributions to the common good.” Given that religious freedom is often interpreted in a narrowly individualistic manner in North America, especially by the courts, Carlson-Thies’ efforts are welcome and definitely deserving of support.
In today’s eNews for Faith-Based Organizations from IRFA, Carlson-Thies corrects a factual error in the December issue of this journal: Inaccurate Bad News.
Under the heading “A Demand for Freedom” in the current issue of First Things, editor Joseph Bottum surveys a long list of negative religious freedom incidents and trends and calls upon people of faith to resist. It is a disheartening, though instructive, list. But it includes an error. Bottum says, “The president allows a diminished form of funding for faith-based institutions to continue, but only if these religious organizations stop hiring on the basis of their religion.” No such new restriction on religious hiring has been imposed by this administration. The equal treatment faith-based rules crafted during the Clinton and Bush administrations remain intact.
It is always welcome news to discover that things are not as bad as we had thought. Let us hope and pray that the news remains good.