In 1993, a diverse group of Americans -- religious and nonreligious, liberal and conservative -- came together to pass a law to protect the free exercise of religion: the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). RFRA was a response to a Supreme Court decision in which the court lessened constitutional protections for the free exercise of religion, especially for religious minorities.
AU originally supported RFRA because it was meant to restore protections for religious minorities. But in the decades since RFRA became law, white Christian nationalists have been misusing RFRA and religious freedom to claim the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people, women, religious minorities, and the nonreligious.
For example, RFRA has been misused to allow:
- Employers and universities to deny employees and students insurance coverage for birth control. Learn more.
- Government contractors and other taxpayer-funded organizations to violate our nation's fundamental civil rights laws and discriminate against employees and applicants. Learn more.
- Taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to turn away potential parents because they are the “wrong” religion or LGBTQ, denying children in foster care the opportunity to find a loving home. Learn more.
Now, we must pass the Do No Harm Act (DNHA) to protect Americans from those who exploit RFRA to harm and discriminate against others. DNHA will help preserve our right to free exercise of religion and prevent religious exemptions that endanger other people’s civil rights. On Feb. 25, 2021, US Representatives Bobby Scott, Steve Cohen, Jamie Raskin, and Mary Gay Scanlon re-introduced the Do No Harm Act in the House of Representatives. And on Sept. 15, 2021, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker re-introduced the DNHA in the Senate.