Guest / Limited Access /
Page 2 of 2

The World Vision plaintiffs—one served as an administrative assistant, one worked in telecommunications, and one coordinated furniture needs—said their central duties were nonreligious in nature.

World Vision U.S. has 1,200 employees and a budget that topped $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2009. About $344 million—29 percent of the total—came in the form of taxpayer funds.

A years-long political battle rages over whether religious groups that receive federal money to provide social services should be able to consider a potential employee's religion when making hiring decisions.

"Nothing has changed," Ira "Chip" Lupu, a church-state scholar and law professor at George Washington University Law School, said after the Ninth Circuit ruling.

"What was very interesting to me was that none of the three judges—including the dissenting judge, who would have ruled that World Vision was not a religious organization for purposes of the Title VII exemption—gave any weight whatsoever to the federal funding aspect of the case," Lupu said.

"The entire discussion was about prior judicial decisions that had nothing to do with funding sources, and about the character of World Vision, irrespective of its funds, private or government."

As a result, the decision "just preserves the status quo" and does nothing to bolster or hinder federal funding of faith-based organizations, Lupu said.

Just this week, more than 100 religious organizations sent a letter to every member of Congress claiming that pending legislation would deny religious charities receiving federal grants a fundamental right to hire people who share their faith. Those signing the letter included World Vision, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In some ways, the Ninth Circuit decision only muddied the waters, said Christopher C. Lund, a law professor at Wayne State University.

"All three judges wrote different opinions," Lund said. "All three judges had different tests about what makes an employer 'religious.' If even one of the judges had been different, the case might have been decided differently. There's a lot of uncertainty here."

What if?

That's apparently still the question.


Related Elsewhere:

Christianity Today initially reported the court decision on Liveblog and covered the lawsuit earlier this year.

Previous articles related to faith-based hiring issues in Christianity Today and its sister publications include:

Obama Expands Faith-Based Office | The President maintains Bush's hiring policy and shapes specific priorities for the office. (May 6, 2009)
Was the Bush Faith-Based Initiative a Failure? | Stanley Carlson-Thies, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (January 26, 2010)
The Employment Nondiscrimination Act of 2007 | Will this proposed law affect your church employment practices? (February 28, 2008, Your Church)
Support our work. Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueMyquillyn Smith
Subscriber Access Only
Myquillyn Smith
The Nester celebrates creativity at home without going overboard.
RecommendedI’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms
I’m a Woman Who Got Kicked Out of Women’s Bathrooms
Our zealous policing of gender norms can have unintended and hurtful consequences.
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickSupreme Court: Texas Can't Keep Women from Abortion Clinics
Supreme Court: Texas Can't Keep Women from Abortion Clinics
Ruling to reverse restrictions interrupts years of pro-life advances on the state level.
View this article in Reader Mode
Christianity Today
Religious Hiring's Status Quo Victory