The Freedom From Religion Foundation is delighted that an important secular bill has been reintroduced in Congress.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and several co-sponsors have reintroduced the Do No Harm Act in the Senate today. Earlier this year, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., introduced the same bill in the House with 138 co-sponsors.
The Do No Harm Act ensures that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) may only be used as a shield to protect religious freedom, rather than as a sword to harm religious minorities, women, LGBTQ people and nontheists. Until it was enacted in 1993 (opposed by FFRF from the start), religious freedom was never meant to be a license to violate the rights of another citizen.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act will still protect religious exercise, such as ensuring Sikh individuals in the military may wear beards, when the Do No Harm Act passes. But it prevents RFRA from being abused to violate basic civil rights. Increasingly, RFRA has been used to undermine anti-discrimination laws, such as by allowing employers to deny women employees insurance coverage for birth control, to turn away foster parents because they are the “wrong” religion or are LGBTQ, or to allow federal contractors to discriminate in employment. It has also led to evasion of child labor laws, refusal by government employees to perform duties and denial of government-funded services.
“Religious freedom does not include the right to force your religion onto other citizens,” says FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “Now is the time for Congress to act swiftly to protect true religious liberty by passing the Do No Harm Act.”