Congressman Joe Kennedy III (MA-04) and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), Ranking Member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, this week introduced legislation to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The “Do No Harm Act” would clarify that no one can seek religious exemption from laws guaranteeing fundamental civil and legal rights. It comes in response to continued efforts across the country to cite religious belief as grounds to undermine Civil Rights Act protections, limit access to healthcare, and refuse service to minority populations.
Specifically, the Do No Harm Act would limit the use of RFRA in cases involving discrimination, child labor and abuse, wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, public accommodations, and social services provided through government contract.
We at the Center for Inquiry released a statement backing the introduction of this amendment:
“Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that protects all Americans, but this freedom does not include the right to restrict or control the behavior of others,” said Nicholas Little, Vice-President and General Counsel for the Center for Inquiry. “At its inception, CFI was one of very few voices cautioning that RFRA would permit religiously motivated discrimination, whether against religious minorities, the non-religious, women, or LGBTQ Americans. Sadly, we were right. But this fix would help ensure that the law could no longer be used as a weapon to impose one person’s religious beliefs on other unwilling parties.”
“We thank Reps. Scott and Kennedy for taking a bold and important step today to protect the religious freedom and equal rights of all Americans,” said Michael De Dora CFI’s director of public policy. “Members of Congress should put aside their partisan differences and approve this fair-minded amendment. We look forward to working with our partners on Capitol Hill, including religious, non-religious, church-state, and civil rights groups, to move this important measure forward.”