April 2019 Church & State Magazine - April 2019

Do No Harm Act Reintroduced In U.S. Congress

  Rob Boston

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on Feb. 28 reintroduced legislation that will provide critical protections for religious freedom.

The Do No Harm Act – introduced by U.S. Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) –  will restore the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to its original intent by preserving the law’s power to protect religious exercise, but clarifying that it may not be used to harm or discriminate against others.  

The Do No Harm Act will ensure that RFRA can’t be used to: trump non-discrimination laws; evade child welfare laws; undermine workplace laws; deny access to health care; refuse to provide government-funded services under a contract; or refuse to render services as a government employee.

“In the era of the Trump administration, too many people across the country are suffering the consequences of discrimination in the name of religious freedom,” said Rachel Laser, president and CEO of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “We applaud Reps. Kennedy and Scott and Sen. Harris for continuing to champion this much-needed legislation, which protects the true meaning of religious freedom – everyone’s right to believe or not as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t harm others.”

The federal RFRA was enacted with the goal of protecting religious freedom, especially for religious minorities. But since then, it has become a vehicle for those who want to discriminate in the name of religious freedom.

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