A prominent refugee resettlement organization has enacted a policy that requires new employees to be Christian, triggering an exodus of Chicago staff members who denounce it as religious discrimination. The former director of the Chicago office of World Relief, a global evangelical Christian charity that receives federal funds to resettle refugees, said she was forced out in January because she disagreed with how the policy was implemented. The agency also has dismantled mental health services for refugees in Chicago after losing staff and funding because of the hiring rule, officials said.

"As a Christian, I feel it is my duty to advocate for the most vulnerable," said former legal specialist Trisha Teofilo, who also left because of the policy. "I believe Jesus would not promote a policy of discrimination."

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the hiring policy is legal. But opponents, including current and former employees, say it is hypocritical for an agency to discriminate when its mission is settling refugees — many of whom have fled religious intolerance in their home countries.

"It's legal, but it's ridiculously wrong and un-Christian," said Delia Seeburg, the director of immigrant legal services in World Relief's Chicago office. She plans to leave for a new job next month.


A social service agency's support for same-sex marriage has cost it local and national funding from the Catholic Church's anti-poverty program. Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and the Washington-based Catholic Campaign for Human Development say that Preble Street violated its grant agreement by supporting Maine's "No on 1" campaign last fall.

Homeless Voices for Justice, a statewide advocacy group, is led by people who have been homeless. It works on issues that affect the homeless, such as supporting affordable housing and preventing violence against the homeless. Portland-based Preble Street, which runs a dozen programs to provide housing and other services for the poor and the homeless, provides staff support for Homeless Voices for Justice.

Catholics for Marriage Equality has begun an effort to replace the lost funding by raising $17,400 for Homeless Voices for Justice. Anne Underwood, a co-founder of the group that advocates for same-sex marriage, said Bishop Richard Malone is punishing the homeless because of politics.

"This is petty vindictiveness," she said. "After the election is over, suddenly the money is revoked from poor people because of a political opinion held by the bishop."

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the national group, awarded $30,000 to Homeless Voices for Justice. It had already given half of the grant when it said in January that it would not provide the rest and asked for a refund of any unspent money. It had been funding Homeless Voices for Justice for 13 years.

Randy Keesler, a grants specialist for the group, said he was surprised that Preble Street took a position on Question 1 without informing him or anyone else on his staff.

"We liked Homeless Voices a great deal. I felt badly for having to cancel the grant," he said. "This was very difficult for us to do."

COMMENT: I wonder if a Roman Catholic working in the finance market would refuse to sell life insurance to a gay couple, with their adopted son named as the benefactor.

Thanks to Mike for sending the second
news item into MadPriest Towers.



  1. … is it OK to say this is a clever headline, or is this not one of the ones you were hoping might be commented on? …

  2. As you mentioned, Catholics for Marriage Equality is asking for donations to the homeless agency to make up this funding loss.

    To donate securely on-line, click :

    Or send a check to
    “Preble Street Resource Center”
    Development Department
    PO Box 1459
    Portland, ME 04104

    The Roman Bishops are the modern Pharisees whom Jesus constantly criticized for their self-righteousness, their faulty presumptions of infallibility, their inability to think outside-the-box of tradition and legalism, and their dearth of spirituality, compassion, and healthy development.

    Their obsessive homophobia was already unhealthy, but now it’s become cold and ruthless.