In Surgeon General Murthy’s report on Facing Addiction, I noticed that the word “religion” was not used in OCR’s notice.
The word “sex” WAS in this notice, but not “religion”, so the decision to leave “religion” out might be slightly more certain than:
last year after having no luck in getting New York state *at any level* to acknowledge precedented Establishment Clause violations (religious coercion) in 12-step treatment, I received a similar response from Sarah Brown, Deputy Director, where the wording was changed to “under certain circumstances, sex and religion“ [are protected].
This was not the response I expected, because on the OCR website where I initially filed my complaint, it says “religion” on the complaint form.
My question is: Under what circumstances is discrimination based on religion allowable, and is “addiction treatment” one of those circumstances? It does seem to be, based on the notice in the Facing Addiction report. If so, why?
Does it have anything to do with the 12-step programs, which the same notice says are not specifically endorsed by HHS?
“Thank you for contacting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Please note that OCR has limited jurisdiction to investigate complaints alleging discrimination on the basis of religion. This jurisdiction depends on the particular program and the funding source to pay for the program.”
Me: “Thank you for your response. Are there any documents I can read regarding OCR’s jurisdiction, such as which funding sources prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion and which ‘particular programs’ might be exempt from investigation? “
“This information is not on OCR’s website and is not available to the public. It is information that is used in OCR’s investigation process.”
Me: “Is it available via a FOIL request?”
“You can request anything under FOIA, but it is likely that the request would be denied because it is part of OCR’s investigative process.”
Me: “Thank you. Perhaps you could answer about a specific situation with NYS OASAS funding Gamblers Anonymous indoctrination in the course of substance abuse treatment, or using Gamblers Anonymous meetings on site, or funding the non-profit organization called the Council for Problem Gambling which promotes GA meetings and OASAS state-run GA-based rehab.”
“I don’t investigate complaints or have access to the information to make this determination. If you have further questions regarding your complaint, it should be directed to OCR’s Central Intake Unit which investigate your complaint.”