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Episcopol leader says faith-based hiring bias makes her 'twitch'.

Katharine Jefferts Schori Katharine Jefferts Schori, D.D., Ph.D. (born March 26, 1954 in Pensacola, Florida) is the Presiding Bishop of Episcopal Church in the United States of America. She is the first woman elected primate in the Anglican Communion. , the presiding bishop The Presiding Bishop is an ecclesiastical position in some denominations of Christianity. Anglican
Anglican Church of New Zealand
For a short period the style Presiding Bishop was used by the Anglican Church in New Zealand.
 of the Episcopal Church Episcopal Church, Anglican church of the United States. Its separate existence as an American ecclesiastical body with its own episcopate began in 1789. Doctrine and Organization
, is no fan of the "faith-based" initiative.

"The idea that faith-based groups should have special entree to government funding just makes me twitch," said Jefferts Schori during a December speech in Washington, D.C. "It makes me twitch when groups funded with public funds See Fund, 3.

See also: Public
 will only hire their own members, or use the funds to advance sectarian" views.

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Jefferts Schori also said she hopes the administration of President Barack Obama "is asking questions" about whether to continue the initiative, Religion News Service reported.

As head of the 2.2-million-member denomination, Jefferts Schori made the remarks after a speech titled "Religion in the Public Square" at the National Press Club.

The initiative was President George W. Bush's first domestic-policy proposal. Although it was never approved by Congress, the faith-based initiative managed to grow during the eight years of the Bush presidency, largely due to executive orders and regulatory changes Bush instituted.

Bush continued making these changes right up until he left office. In the final days of his term, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services Noun 1. Department of Health and Human Services - the United States federal department that administers all federal programs dealing with health and welfare; created in 1979
Health and Human Services, HHS
 and the Department of Labor prepared new guidelines to help religious organizations receive public funding while continuing to discriminate in hiring.

The guidelines were based in part on a legal opinion issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ (Department Of Justice) The legal arm of the U.S. government that represents the public interest of the United States. It is headed by the Attorney General. ) in 2007, which came to light last October. The memo asserted that "faith-based" social service agencies can receive government funds and still discriminate in hiring on religious grounds even if Congress specifically banned such bias in the program.

The opinion was issued after a $1.5 million DOJ grant was approved for World Vision, an evangelical Christian agency that hires "only candidates who agree with World Vision's Statement of Faith and/or the Apostles' Creed."

In support of giving tax funds to a group that discriminates like this, DOJ officials argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (, also known as RFRA) is a 1993 United States federal law aimed at preventing laws which substantially burden a person's free exercise of their religion. , a federal law passed in 1993, trumps federal anti-discrimination provisions.

Bush's new guidelines lay out for religious groups how to successfully receive an exemption from hiring restrictions and still receive public funds through Labor and Health and Human Services Noun 1. Health and Human Services - the United States federal department that administers all federal programs dealing with health and welfare; created in 1979
Department of Health and Human Services, HHS
. As the DOJ opinion suggests, the exemptions will be offered on a case-by-case basis to any religious organization that believes its religious character would be "substantially burdened" if it doesn't get to hire people of similar faith.

Americans United has urged Obama to overturn Bush executive orders relating to the faith-based initiative.
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Title Annotation:PEOPLE & EVENTS
Publication:Church & State
Date:Feb 1, 2009
Words:417
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