December 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Faith-based organizations will, at least for the moment, be able to make religiously-informed hiring decisions without fear of being discriminated against for government contracts under an administrative rule finalized Monday by the U.S. Department of Labor.
In 2014, former President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13672, which added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the criteria against which employers contracting with the federal government could not “discriminate.” Last year, the Trump administration published a proposed rule clarifying that contractors retain the freedom to make hiring and firing decisions consistent with their religious beliefs.
On Monday, the Labor Department announced the finalized rule, saying it “will encourage the full and equal participation of religious organizations as federal contractors. Religious organizations, many of them small nonprofits, provide such essential services as feeding the hungry, supporting refugees, and educating our nation’s students.”
The rule makes clear that faith-based organizations that contract with the federal government retain the right to only hire individuals who share that organization’s faith, and that they can terminate employees on the basis of whether they abide by or reject the tenets of that faith.
“OFCCP is committed to protecting religious liberty, while ensuring vigorous enforcement of the anti-discrimination laws the agency administers,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs director Craig E. Leen. “This rule will help ensure that religious organizations can fully participate in federal procurement consistent with the First Amendment and other applicable federal laws.”
“Religious organizations should never be forced to abandon their religious identity and mission in order to be eligible to partner with the federal government,” added First Liberty institute senior counsel Stephanie Taub, Catholic News Agency reported. SUBSCRIBE to LifeSite’s daily headlines U.S. Canada World Catholic
It is unclear how long the new protections will remain in effect, however. Democrat Joe Biden, who will become president in January unless a lawsuit challenging four states’ mail-in ballots prevails at the Supreme Court, was Obama’s vice president in the previous administration and ran this year on an aggressive platform of elevating abortion “rights” and homosexual and transgender accommodation above religious freedom.