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Iowa says faith-based charities unworthy of employee donation program

State claims religious nature of faith-based organizations excludes them from voluntary state employee donations; CLS, ADF attorneys file suit
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DES MOINES, Iowa — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and Christian Legal Society filed suit Wednesday against Iowa officials on behalf of the Association of Faith-Based Organizations.  The suit challenges rules excluding religious charitable organizations from receiving voluntary donations from state employees as part of the Iowa One Gift campaign.

“Faith-based charitable organizations should not be discriminated against because of their beliefs.  No legal reason exists for Iowa to prevent state employees from voluntarily giving their own money to religious charitable organizations,” said M. Casey Mattox, litigation counsel for CLS’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom.  “Religious charities providing critical social services should not be denied equal treatment in this program simply because these charities also practice their religious beliefs and hire persons who share them.”

The rules challenged in the lawsuit exclude any charitable organization that “engages in any way in sectarian activities,” advocates “religious viewpoints,” or “discriminates” on the basis of religion in employment.

Instead of formally serving the complaint filed with the court, CLS and ADF attorneys sent a courtesy copy to state officials with a letter requesting that they correct the unconstitutional policy within 10 days.

“We are hopeful that the state officials will take this opportunity to correct this blatantly unconstitutional treatment of religious charities, making further litigation unnecessary,” Mattox explained.

CLS and ADF attorneys have successfully represented AFBO in similar lawsuits in Florida and Wisconsin.

AFBO is an association of non-profit religious charities seeking to protect the constitutional freedom of religious organizations to staff and select members on a religious basis.  AFBO is comprised of social service providers, educational institutions, membership associations, and advocacy outreach organizations, including the Christian Legal Society and other non-profit organizations.

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth.  The CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom is a team of Christian attorneys allied with ADF to defend religious liberty and human life.