House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.

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Dear Colleague

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2007

Vote NO on the Shuler Fake Faith-Based Amendment

Dear Colleague:

As the House moves toward passage of the Improving Head Start Act (H.R. 1429) to reauthorize the federal early childhood education program, many Members had hoped to have the opportunity to amend the bill by protecting the civil rights of faith-based organizations to provide services to Head Start children without surrendering their religious identities.  However, yesterday the Rules Committee barred the amendment from consideration later today. 

What has the Majority offered in its place?  A transparent amendment that has nothing at all to do with protecting the civil rights of faith-based providers.  If protecting their rights is really what the Majority had in mind, we’d be considering the REAL faith-based amendment. 

Instead, the Shuler fake faith-based amendment is a hollow attempt to have it both ways.  On one hand, this amendment cheers the work of faith-based providers and recognizes their contributions to our nation.  But on the other hand, it leaves them completely unprotected when it comes to their right to preserve their identity while serving children in Head Start. 

Consider this:

With respect to hiring authority, Section 702(a) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1972 states:

“This subchapter shall not apply ... to a religious corporation, association, educational institution, or society with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association, educational institution, or society of its activities."

Does the Shuler fake faith-based amendment reaffirm the language from this statute?  No, it does not.

Or, consider this:

Consistent with this language from the Civil Rights Act, former President Clinton signed FOUR laws that explicitly allow religious organizations to retain their right to staff on a religious basis when they receive federal funds.  The 1996 welfare reform law, the Children’s Health Act of 2000, the Community Services Block Grant Act of 1998, and the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 each contain language that reflects the REAL faith-based amendment offered to – and rejected by – the Rules Committee yesterday. 

Does the Shuler fake faith-based amendment reaffirm the language signed into law on four separate occasions by former President Clinton?  No, it does not.

And finally, consider this:

The REAL faith-based amendment offered to – and rejected by – the Rules Committee yesterday would have codified a 2002 Executive Order protecting the right of a participating faith-based organization to display a cross or other religious symbols on its grounds.  

Does the Shuler fake faith-based amendment do the same? 

Apparently not.  This amendment was written in such a way that may run counter to that Executive Order, potentially endangering rights faith-based providers already enjoy.

In short, in an attempt to play politics, the Shuler fake faith-based amendment is, at best, an attempt to provide political cover and, at worst, a poorly-drafted measure that may end up turning back the clock on the rights of faith-based providers to display religious symbols.  Because of that, we urge a NO vote.

For more information on this amendment or the Improving Head Start Act, please contact the Education and Labor Committee Republican staff at x5-6558.

Sincerely,


Luis G. Fortuño (R-PR)                                               

Member

Education and Labor Committee