The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Faith Is a Qualification

Posted by thelamp on March 24, 2007

The biblical philosophy for rearing kids is simple. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it,” instructs Proverbs 22:6. Unfortunately, America’s youngest pupils are being subliminally taught that God’s influence ought to be confined within the walls of a church sanctuary; and that dangerous lesson in secularism is being reinforced by Congress.

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Last week, on a 24-13 vote, the House Labor and Education Committee rejected a common-sense amendment to H.R. 1429, a bill reauthorizing Head Start – the popular federal early-childhood education program. The measure would have allowed churches and other groups receiving government funds to take religion into account when hiring teachers and other employees.

Since it was established in 1965, Head Start has always been open to faith-based providers. However, in 1972, federal law barred Head Start providers from hiring on the basis of religion. On several occasions, including during the 109th Congress, the House of Representatives has voted to remove this restriction. Each time, though, the Senate has blocked the bill from passing.

Those who erroneously believe church and state must exist as separately as oil and water claim it is unconstitutional for federal dollars to fund job discrimination. These folks are wrong; faith is a legitimate qualification for employment within any service provided by a religious organization.

Hiring men and women of like minds is essential to maintaining the nature and character of a faith-based program. Religious providers who want to participate in Head Start should not have to surrender their religious character in order to help give low-income children a solid start on their educational journeys.

Participating in the Head Start program gives Bible believers an avenue to make a vital contribution to local communities and the broader society. Putting up a roadblock here impedes underprivileged youngsters who could benefit from these valuable programs.

“This division between the secular and the spiritual, which so many Christians carry around today, is an artificial one. It is a distinction that is completely foreign to the thinking of Jesus, Paul or the founders of our nation,” said Pastor Rod Parsley. “We have to bury, once and forever, the old myth that Christians must set their faith aside when they engage the broader culture. Nowhere is this more important than in programs that are molding the next generation.”

Contrary to the separationists’ argument, such a restrictive policy would violate the religious freedom of religious social-service providers by expecting them to follow the same rules as secular groups when they are receiving government funds. There’s historical precedence to support this perspective.

The landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act explicitly protects the rights of religious organizations to take religion into account in their hiring practices. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously upheld the freedom to hire applicants with shared beliefs in a 1987 decision, Corporation of the Presiding Bishop v. Amos.

In that case, the nation’s highest court ruled that a “law is not unconstitutional simply because it allows churches to advance religion, which is their very purpose. For a law to have a forbidden ‘effect’ … it must be fair to say that the government itself has advanced religion through its own activities and influence.”

Once they enter the public educational system, children lose the privilege of praying together at school. They should not also be denied the guidance of instructors who believe in and follow the Lord merely because the program in which they are participating is wholly or partly funded by tax dollars.



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