Homeless shelter in row over funding
The only homeless centre in Butler County, Pennsylvania, could lose more than half of its funding because of a row over an anti-discrimination government contract.
According to this report, the faith-based Grace Youth and Family Foundation’s Winter Relief Center, headed by Bill Halle, above, was in line for about $35,000 from the Butler County Department of Human Services, provided it sign a hiring contract that forbids discrimination based on race, colour, religious creed, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or non-job related handicap or disability.
But Halle said he cannot sign a contract in which the county stipulates hiring criteria that interferes with the group’s religious beliefs.
We have a statement of faith that Jesus Christ is the center of everything we do. We want the opportunity to talk about it. You cannot have a Muslim within our organization. Our faith is central to what we do.
We will not hire people or employ services that are in opposition to our faith, which is a legally allowable exception to discrimination laws for faith-based organizations.
The county says the contract is standard for any non-profit organisation — faith-based or not – that gets government funding.
Joyce Ainsworth, Butler County’s Director of Human Services, said that, because the shelter had grown is size, it had been asked for the first time this year to sign a contract.
I thought it needed to be more accountable as it got larger.