Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More on Staffing Freedoms and Head Start

In my post earlier today, I criticized those groups that oppose protecting the religious staffing freedom of religious organizations that seek to operate federally funded Head Start programs.

On its blog, the Baptist Joint Committee has posted the text of a joint letter to Congress urging it not to add religious staffing protections. Among other things, the joint letter states:

For 35 years, religious organizations have enthusiastically and effectively participated in the program while upholding this statutory standard. We are not aware of any call by these religiously based Head Start programs for congressional authority to begin to discriminate in this federally-funded program.

It is unsurprising that current Head Start program operators have not called for increased protection of religious staffing freedoms. After all, it is safe to assume that such operators elected to participate in the program despite its failure to protect hiring rights either because they did not staff on a religious basis or because they concluded that receiving federal funding to operate Head Start programs was a higher priority than continuing to staff on a religious basis.

One might also reasonably speculate that current providers are uninterested in opening the door to greater competition for funding by eliminating a barrier to the participation of groups that staff on a religious basis.