Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the discriminatory policies of CISCO Systems and the CISCO Foundation:

Cisco Systems, the multinational technology behemoth, has a reputation for fostering tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. It is undeserved. When it comes to Catholics, it makes an exception. As will be revealed, it also has a problem with others.

Just this month, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami was turned down by Cisco for participation in the company’s matching gift program. The reason? It’s Catholic. Of course, Cisco never came right out and admitted to its bigotry. It’s too clever for that.

After the Catholic school submitted its application, it was asked whether it was in compliance with CISCO’s non-discrimination policy. Like all Catholic schools, Belen Jesuit doesn’t discriminate against anyone—not in hiring or in its student body population. But that wasn’t sufficient to satisfy CISCO.

“Please confirm that your non-profit organization does not require exposure, adherence, or conversion to any religious doctrine for students and employees, and that you serve all faiths and the community at large. For example, do you require attendance at religious services?”

This was the question, based on CISCO’s policy on “religious proselytizing.” It has no policy on “secular proselytizing.”   

CISCO is a private company so it can pretty much do what it wants. This means, however, that because it is not subject to the First Amendment, it cannot trot out the so-called establishment clause to justify its policy.

To put it differently, there is no separation of church and state issue here—CISCO’s policy is purely a reflection of its own values. Those values are secular in nature. That they evince a clear animus against religion is not debatable.

CISCO is playing a game. It says Catholic schools can qualify for admission to its matching gift program provided they don’t expose students to Catholicism, or expect them to adhere to Catholic teachings. In other words, if Catholic schools cease to be Catholic, they can qualify.

CISCO should simply admit to its bigotry and not try to play a Catch-22 game with Catholics. This ploy is reminiscent of white racist polling officials down South who once tested for citizenship by having one set of questions for prospective white voters and another set for blacks.

Whites were asked questions such as, “Who was the first president of the United States?” Blacks were asked the wording of Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. As some astute blacks answered at the time, “That’s easy. It says no blacks are going to vote here.”

Belen Jesuit made the point that students and parents freely decide to enroll in the school, knowing full well its strictures. Theology classes are required, and while religions other than Catholicism are presented, most of the classes are not about Buddhism. Students are expected to attend Mass, but no one is required to go to communion. That didn’t cut it with CISCO: application denied.

What makes CISCO tick? Its values are not merely secular—they are radically secular.

  • In 2017, when a bill was being considered in Texas that would ban males who think they are females from showering with elementary and secondary school girls, CISCO opposed it.
  • In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, 7-2, to affirm the right of a Christian baker not to personalize a gay wedding cake. CISCO filed an amicus brief on the losing side trying to strip him of his religious liberty.
  • Last month, when a bill was introduced in Congress that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the 1964 Civil Rights Act (it has failed repeatedly), CISCO supported it. The bill would grant preferential treatment in hiring to homosexuals and to men who think they are women, and vice versa.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center, a far-left entity that brands Christian family organizations as hate groups, is lavishly funded by CISCO.

How clean is CISCO? Not very.

CISCO has had a string of serious complaints made against it for age discrimination. There are also racial issues. Last year it was sued for racial discrimination by a black woman. In 2018, federal investigators found that it discriminated against American workers; it prefers to hire foreign nationals over U.S. citizens. Regarding the latter, the Department of Labor found that CISCO “secured visas for foreign workers instead of hiring U.S. citizens for certain jobs and paid the visa holders at a lower rate than their American counterparts.”

In short, CISCO funds left-wing causes, especially those that work against religious liberty, and has had its fair share of unjust labor practices.

More important, it has no tolerance for the diversity that Catholic schools offer, preferring to exclude them from its commitment to inclusion. No wonder it is located in the Silicon Valley, home to Marxist millionaires who say one thing and do another.

Contact Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO:

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