Religious Freedom is under attack in Washington, DC. Two newly signed bills could set a precedent for other local governments to intervene in the religious beliefs of Americans.
- The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act: The bill forces pro-life employers in the District to cover elective, surgical abortions in their health plans.
- The Human Rights Amendment Act: This bills forces educational organizations into promoting and condoning lifestyles, orientations, or belief that go against their religious convictions. Under the Human Rights Amendment Act, a religious school could be forced to host a gay pride day, “coming out” day, or support a student group dedicated to furthering LGBT activities.
This violation of religious liberty can be stopped by Congress voting to “disapprove” these bills.
Read the full letter below:
February 5, 2015
The United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20515
We, the undersigned, represent national and local religious institutions and organizations and pro-life advocacy organizations, all of which have offices in the District of Columbia, that serve and speak on behalf of millions of people across the United States. Most of us do not engage in the city’s legislative affairs, but we must do so now with one voice against two recently enacted laws that are unprecedented assaults upon our organizations. Both laws violate the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association protected by the First Amendment and other federal law.
The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 prevents religious institutions, other faith-based employers, and pro-life advocacy organizations from making employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs or their moral and ethical views about the sanctity of human life. For example, the law requires our organizations to hire or retain individuals whose speech or public conduct contradicts the organizations’ missions, and could be read to require our organizations to subsidize elective abortions through their employee health plans. The law plainly violates the First Amendment, the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), and possibly other federal laws and clearly contradicts the Supreme Court’s recent, unanimous ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Church and School v. EEOC.
The law would also infringe the right of expressive association for both religious and non-religious pro-life nonprofit organizations. New emergency and temporary legislation proposed by the Council of the District of Columbia may address constitutional deficiencies with regard to insurance coverage if the measures are enacted, but the measures fail to resolve the “serious concerns under the Constitution and under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act” that the outgoing Mayor and D.C. Office of the Attorney General have acknowledged. 2 Defending this law would be a waste of federal
and local taxpayer funds.
The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 requires religiously affiliated educational institutions to endorse, sponsor, and provide school resources to persons or groups that oppose the institutions’ religious teachings regarding human sexuality. In doing so, the law violates the First Amendment and RFRA on similar grounds.
Justices Alito and Kagan wrote in their concurrence in Hosanna-Tabor that “it is easy to forget that the autonomy of religious groups… has often served as a shield against oppressive civil laws.” While we will continue to serve the city and the nation, we cannot surrender the constitutional freedoms that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution rightly reserved to all of us.
Therefore we respectfully request that you disapprove both the Reproductive Health NonDiscrimination Amendment Act of 2014 and Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 during the congressional review period. Please take this opportunity to stand for religious freedom and freedom of conscience.
We thank you for your help in this important and urgent matter.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Colby M. May
American Center for Law & Justice
John L. Schlageter, Esq.
Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA
Cynthia DeSimone Weiler
Chancellor and General Counsel
Archdiocese of Washington
The Catholic University of America
CEO & President
Concerned Women for America
Dr. Russell Moore
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention
Vice President of Government Affairs
Family Research Council
Michael A. Needham
Heritage Action for America
Knights of Columbus
March for Life Education and Defense Fund
National Association of Evangelicals
National Organization for Marriage
Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.
Associate General Secretary & General Counsel
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops