Q. As a church employer, is it legal for us to request an applicant to state his or her religious beliefs, or to require them to be of our beliefs?
A. Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on a person’s religion, that law contains an exception that allows religious organizations to give employment preference to members of their own religion. This exception is not limited to religious activities of the organization.
Note: The exception does not allow churches to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability. As the EEOC guidance on this issue says, “a religious organization is not permitted to engage in racially discriminatory hiring by asserting that a tenet of its religious beliefs is not associating with people of other races.”