My fellow NCR Today blogger Michael Sean Winters argues that faith-based institutions should be able to show preference for people of their own faith in hiring. But he omitted one very crucial phrase: "with public money."
What The New York Times editorial (with which he disagrees) was discussing was not hiring in general, but hiring people for social service programs funded by public tax dollars under the Faith-based and Community Partnerships Program. These dollars cannot be used for anything that proselytizes, or promotes a religion anyway, or the whole program would run afoul of the First Amendment.
So, if one is hiring a drug counselor, or someone to run a soup kitchen or a job-training office, it’s a neutral job -- religiously speaking -- and there is no reason to discriminate on the basis of religion. In fact, since such salaries are paid with tax dollars, there is every reason not to discriminate.