NYCLU Calls on State Officials to Audit Salvation Army Employment Practices

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
January 14, 2004 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — In letters sent today to New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi and New York City Comptroller William G. Thompson Jr., the New York Civil Liberties Union raised concerns about possible religious discrimination against employees in state- and city-funded social services programs run by the Salvation Army.

Specifically, the NYCLU is asking the Comptrollers to conduct an audit to determine whether the Salvation Army is improperly applying religious tests for employment in child welfare and other government social services programs.

“The Salvation Army does good work and performs vital community services,”” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “”But when it provides services in partnership and on behalf of the government it cannot impose a religious litmus test on the employees who provide those services or on the recipients.””

“”For 136 years, the Salvation Army’s mission has been to meet ‘human needs without discrimination,'”” Lieberman added. “”If it seeks to carry out this important mission with government funding it must do so without discrimination.”

As the NYCLU letter noted, the Salvation Army has recently begun to require all New York City employees and prospective job applicants to identify their present church affiliation and minister’s name as well as all other churches attended in the previous decade. Moreover, recently developed job descriptions and new job application forms appear to require that employees “”preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ”” and to thereby profess their belief in Christianity.

The Salvation Army, which receives over $89 million in government funding, claims an exemption from anti-discrimination laws because it is a church. But when the Salvation Army provides child welfare and other social services with government funding in partnership with New York City and New York State, it cannot engage in religious discrimination either in the provision of such services or in the hiring of employees to provide those services, the NYCLU said.

The NYCLU letter to New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi is online at /node/22578

The NYCLU letter to New York City Comptroller William G. Thompson Jr. is online at /node/22579

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