Religion

Indiana: Bill Would Allow Religious Institutions Receiving State Funds To Hire Based On Religion

| by Kendal Mitchell

An Indiana state lawmaker introduced a piece of legislation that would allow companies and organizations that receive state funds to hire certain people based on their religious beliefs.

State Sen. Travis Holdman, author of Senate Bill 127, said the bill would allow state contracted institutions with religious affiliations, like universities, child care centers and hospitals, to hire employees based on religion. It would also allow organizations to compel their employees to follow specific religious doctrines.

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The Republican lawmaker said he introduced the bill because religiously affiliated groups faced past difficulties when attempting to get state funds or grants.

Last year, the attorney general’s office said Indiana Wesleyan University, a Christian university, could not receive a workforce training grant because the university’s religious association violated state contracting laws.

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“My concern is that we have a large number of religious organizations providing services to the state of Indiana,” Holdman said.

Critics of the bill said they think the state government should give funds to organizations that believe in and embody religious ideologies.

Indiana Equality Action, an equal rights advocacy group, spokeswoman Chris Paulsen said while she thinks religious groups should hire whomever they want when they are not receiving public money, they should be held to the same principles as public businesses during the hiring process if they do receive public funds.

Public businesses cannot discriminate based on gender, race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs during the hiring process.

Tim Lanane, State Senate minority leader, said he attempted to add a clause onto the bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity, but the State Senate voted against it 36-6.

He said he thinks some businesses would use the bill to question their employees about personal matters like the use of birth control.

If the bill passes, it would need to be approved by the Indiana House of Representatives.  

Sources: World Religion News, Indy Star Photo Credit: Indiana Senate Majority Campaign Committee