Americans United for Separation of Church and State today welcomed the re-introduction of the Do No Harm Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) and 50 other co-sponsors.
“Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. Our country is strongest when we are all free to believe or not, as we see fit, and to practice our faith without hurting others,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “The Do No Harm Act will protect the religious freedom of all Americans.”
The legislation is designed to ensure that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) continues to provide important protections for religious exercise and also clarifies that the law may not be used to harm others.
“Our laws should be a shield to protect religious freedom and not a sword to harm others,” said Lynn. “Although RFRA certainly provides important protections for religious exercise, some have used the law in ways that harm and deny the rights of others. RFRA, of course, was never intended to do any of these things.”
Congress enacted the federal RFRA in 1993 with the goal of protecting religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. At the time of its passage, a broad coalition of progressive and conservative groups supported the law. But since then, the federal RFRA has become a vehicle for those who want to use religion as an excuse to undermine protections for civil rights and women’s health. State legislatures are considering similar legislation.
The Do No Harm Act was first introduced in 2016.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.