The American Family Association, under the direction of Tim Wildman has done a lot to expose persecution of Christian beliefs, and unwarranted policing of free speech as it relates to religious views expressed in the public arena. Their positions are decidedly conservative Christian. These facts are not difficult to discern if one bothers to take even a cursory look at the organization’s web page.
In light of this, just how is it that the State of Connecticut approved the organization for participation in charitable giving program by state employees? The AFA beliefs have not recently changed. Their positions often include encouragement to boycott advertisers who fail to at least remain neutral with regard to Christian values.
According to a letter from Kevin Lembo, Comptroller of the State of Connecticut, an investigation has been undertaken to see if AFA complies with the Charitable State Employee designated giving guidelines regarding non-discriminatory policies and actions by any group approved to pass along funds from employee contributions.
There are several issues at work in this story. First of all, the AFA policies and actions may indeed violate the stated guidelines for non-discriminatory practices. My question to the Comptroller would be why were they ever approved for participation in the first place? Their views, teaching, and structure were clearly in place when they were accepted for participation in the program.
Secondly, the money being sent is not state funds, but employee money specifically designated by that employee for that organization. If the state agrees to provide the service of withholding money at the employee’s instruction to be forwarded to a charity, then it seems to me that all groups would need to be treated equally under provisions of equality in the fourteenth amendment. If the employer decides who can and cannot be included in charitable giving by employees, then the free speech of employees is governed to some extend by the employer rather than individual conscience.
If AFA is found to be in non-compliance with the stated guidelines, then I suggest that fairness would dictate that all participants be judged by that same standard. Are there pro-homosexual or gay marriage organizational groups on the list? Do they discriminate against those who disagree with them?
The one legitimate point made by Mr. Lembo in his letter to AFA is whether or not they actually do provide charitable services. In a brief viewing of their website, I did not see charitable work specifically promoted. This is not to say they don’t do it, but that is does not show up prominently featured on their web page. Again however, the organization has not changed in its mission, teaching, or practice, so if AFA is out of compliance now, they were also out of compliance when they were accepted for participation in the program. Having started with AFA participation the the giving plan and now claiming they do not comply with State standards reveals either a flawed review of applicant organizations, or a duplicitous motive on the part of a state official.