Editor’s Note: The constitutional principle of religious freedom has been undermined like never before under the Trump administration. This year we have seen unprecedented attacks on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, and an erosion of church-state separation that threatens religious minorities and the nonreligious in America.
As the new year approaches, we’re taking a look back at the Top 10 church-state separation issues of 2019 – and how AU has led the charge against these blatant violations of our Constitution.
Americans United was on the front lines this year battling the Trump administration’s proposal to allow taxpayer-funded government contractors to use a religious litmus test to fire or refuse to hire employees.
In an attack on working Americans, President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor in August issued a proposed rule that would allow government contractors to discriminate in hiring. And as usual, the Trump administration justified its discriminatory policy by citing “religious freedom.”
The result: taxpayer-funded federal contractors, including for-profit companies, could claim a right to fire someone because they are LGBTQ, a single mom, the “wrong” religion, or don’t go to church often enough. The rule would apply to at least one-fifth of the American workforce.
That’s why AU, along with a broad coalition of allies, spoke out against this discrimination. We rallied our supporters, who were among the 90,000 people to submit comments objecting to the proposal. The final rule has not yet been issued and is not yet in effect.
Just over a month later, we also joined allies to rally at the U.S. Supreme Court to urge the justices to uphold critical workplace protections for LGBTQ people. AU President and CEO Rachel Laser spoke during the rally, making it clear that no one’s rights hinge on someone else’s religious beliefs.
The court in the spring is expected to issue a decision in these three cases that will determine if Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination. The court’s decision could have wide-ranging implications for many important areas of life, including housing, health care, education and credit.
Religious freedom is a fundamental American value. It guarantees us the right to practice our religion, or no religion at all. It does not give us the right to harm others.
Americans United will continue to defend religious freedom and demand that no one is fired from their job because of who they are, who they love or what they believe. Join us!