Religious test on employment application raises concerns, LFT says

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(Baton Rouge – December 17, 2013) Public funds should not be sent to any schools that pry into a person’s life and impose employment restrictions like those at Baton Rouge’s Hosanna Christian Academy, Louisiana Federation of Teachers President Steve Monaghan said today.

“An application form posted on the internet asks intrusive, personal questions that could not legally be required of applicants for jobs in public schools, or would dare be asked by most private sector employers,” Monaghan said. “We understand the church’s desire to hire whomever they wish. We do not believe that the taxpayer dollars should be used for such discriminatory employment practices, however.”

Half of the school’s 567 students attend on vouchers, at a cost of $1.4 million to the state. Prospective teachers at the school must adhere to a strict fundamentalist version of the Christian faith, according to an application form posted on the Internet.

Monaghan urged the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to investigate hiring practices at Hosanna and the other 117 private and religious schools that accept students whose tuition is paid with taxpayer dollars.

“The application form asks about recent illnesses and physical defects,” Monaghan said, “it asks about the consumption of alcohol and/or tobacco, whether an unmarried individual is abstaining from sex or living with a non-relative of the opposite sex, or engaging in homosexual activities. No public agency would be allowed to ask those questions, and most private employers would not have any interest in doing so.”

It is apparently not enough to simply be a Christian to work at the school, according to the form. There is Statement of Faith attached to the form that requires adherence to a specific version of the Christian faith and requires the applicant to sign an agreement. Catholics as well as many Protestant believers could therefore be ineligible for employment. Members of other faiths are obviously not welcome to apply.

“Those kinds of issues consumed Europe in religious wars for centuries,” Monaghan said. “That is precisely why the U.S. Constitution’s first amendment erects a wall of separation between church and state. That is why no public funds should be provided to institutions with religious preconditions for employment.”