Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More on hiring-for-mission and "discrimination"

Steve writes:

Catholic Charities “hires to mission.” It does not and need not require that employees or volunteers be Catholics to further its mission. If it did so require, it would be discriminating on the basis of religion. When it requires that its directors be Catholics, it discriminates on the basis of religion, but that discrimination is necessary to further its mission. Faith-based social service organizations that do not proselytize, generally, can hire without regard to religion in furthering their mission.

I disagree.  Catholic Charities would not be "discriminating on the basis of religion" -- it would not, that is, be engaged in unjustified exclusion of would-be associates -- if it required that "employees or volunteers be Catholics".  "Discrimination" is no longer used to mean, in a non-pejorative way, "selection on the basis of some criteria or another".  "Discrimination", for us, carries with it a presumption of wrong-ness; when it is tolerated, that toleration needs to be justified and limited, we now think.  "Hiring for mission" is not like that.

Steve says that faith-based social-service organizations "that do not proselytize, generally, can hire without regard to religion in furthering their mission."  Maybe.  It is hard to know, given the overlay of rules that have not required them to proselytize, or that have interfered with their ability to hire-for-mission.  But, in any event, from the fact that Steve, or I, or even the directors of the association conclude that the mission of the association does not require hiring co-religionists it does not follow that a decent political community should require, or can justify requiring, that the association adopt a "religion does not matter for mission" hiring practice as a condition of participating in a publicly funded social-welfare program. 


Garnett, Rick | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference More on hiring-for-mission and "discrimination" :