July/August 2018 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

The Do No Harm Act, a bill that’s designed to ensure that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) continues to provide important protections for religious exercise while clarifying that RFRA may not be used to discriminate against or otherwise harm others, was introduced in the U.S. Senate in May.

U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) introduced the legislation; a House version, sponsored by U.S. Reps. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) and Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), was introduced last year. It now has over 100 House co-sponsors.

Americans United supports the legislation. AU President and CEO Rachel Laser said in a statement that “the Do No Harm Act will ensure that we honor two core American values: religious freedom and the promise of equal protection under the law.”

Congress enacted the federal RFRA in 1993 with the goal of protecting religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. At that time, a broad coalition of progressive and conservative groups, including Americans United, supported the law. But since then, the federal RFRA has been misinterpreted by some courts and has become a vehicle for those who want to use religion to undermine protections for civil rights and access to health care.