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Colorado's House Majority Leader, Alice Madden (Democrat, photo at right), is unwittingly providing a lesson in political gamesmanship to the religious community and everyone should take note.
Last year the Colorado legislature enacted a state version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which forces businesses to forfeit their religious convictions in matters of firing, hiring, and promotion regardless of a person's faith, age, gender, or sexual orientation. In a classic move to abate opposition from the religious community, they exempted religious organizations like Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army that provide social services.
Madden, who supported the exemption last year, has now introduced H.B. 1080, a bill that would put religious charities under these onerous requirements and clearly violate the religious tenets of many of them. This is just another example of the growing tendency to use religious exemptions to lull Christian groups into a false security only to pull those exemptions out from under them later on.
The area's religious organizations are understandably upset at the leadership's about-face on the law and intend to do all they can to stop it. As Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver wrote, "Catholic Charities has no interest at all in generic dogoodism... When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services."
That would be devastating news to the disadvantaged families in the area who for the last 33 years have relied on the generosity of such religious charities.
In my opinion, Madden has to be pretty desperate to make a political point if she's willing to let people go hungry and homeless to do it. Not only does her bill show a callous disregard for the poor, but it also treads on dangerous constitutional grounds. It implicitly discriminates against religious groups and churches. Colorado's assembly should be ashamed of any attempt to sideline charities that perform valuable community services.
Join us in calling on Rep. Madden to reconsider H.B. 1080 by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.