Letters to the Editor: House Bill 1080 Dispute

  • January 30, 2008

To: Denver Catholic Register

The Anti-Defamation League read with great concern the editorial by Archbishop Chaput criticizing House Bill 1080. We especially take issue with the implied criticism that ADL supports this bill because of some anti-Catholic or anti-religious bigotry.

Here are the facts about House Bill 1080. Its sole intent is to guarantee that taxpayer money is not used to discriminate in employment. Certainly, Archbishop Chaput would not stand silent if government were permitted to discriminate in hiring on the basis of a person’s religion. Such discrimination would violate the longstanding principles upon which this great democracy has been built. He would ague that there should never be a religious test for an employee to work for a government office or program and that no religious litmus test should ever be permitted which would deny a person a government job because of his or her religion. That rule of fairness and equality should apply no matter whether the government-funded program is administered by the public sector, a secular private institution, or a religious organization.

In fact, that was the rule in Colorado before 2007. Religious organizations were free to discriminate in hiring based on religion — as they absolutely should be — except when they were supported by public funds. The 2007 amendment, which added the term “religion” to a statute that already used the synonym “creed,” deleted the important exception involving the use of public funds. House Bill 1080 is meant to restore the law to include those important protections against discrimination when using public funds. It is limited in scope to apply only to employees who will be doing the government’s business. It is not motivated by bigotry. It is not intended to “bully religious groups out of the public square.” It is not aimed at Catholic Charities, nor is there any reason why Catholic Charities cannot continue its important work if the bill is passed. Fundamentally, the bill supports religious liberty and the diversity of our religious communities. It is meant to protect employees of any faith when they are applying to work on a government grant — and its purpose is to protect the religious freedom of all of us.

Bruce H. DeBoskey

Mountain States Regional Director

Anti-Defamation League Denver