FFRF deplores Trump’s parting shot allowing contractors to discriminate based on religion

On its way out the door, President Trump’s Labor Department has shamelessly finalized a rule that allows federal contractors to discriminate against employees based on “sincerely held religious tenets.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation opposed this unjust rule last August when the Trump administration first proposed it. The state/church watchdog submitted a formal comment and asked its members to do the same.

In an alarming new twist, the rule protects discrimination by a federal contractor based on conduct that the employer says violates their religion. Worse still, for-profit companies would be given a cover for labor discrimination so long as they invoke a religious purpose for such actions.

The new rule targets LGBTQ individuals. Anti-gay employers have a long history of disingenuously arguing that they are not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation, but rather on “lifestyle” choices or “conduct.”

But this rule could also be used to deny employment to atheists and nonbelievers, members of any minority religion, single mothers or anyone else who isn’t practicing the “right” religion in the “proper” way in the eyes of an employer receiving federal funds. In other words, Christian employers could discriminate against non-Christians or even against anyone they deem to be a “bad Christian.”

Giving federal contractors a religious license to discriminate in employment places the federal government’s stamp of approval on all manner of bigotry. The Trump administration’s rule shamefully lets our taxpayer dollars go to discrimination by federal contractors. Citizens could be paying their own employer and government to discriminate against them. The rule rolls back decades of progress on labor law and the protection of the rights of LGBTQ and other vulnerable individuals.

FFRF plans to work with the Biden administration to undo the rule as quickly as possible. “The Labor Department should adopt rules that will protect employees who have a history of suffering discrimination, rather than legalizing invidious discrimination,” says Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 33,000 members nationwide, including members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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