“Do No Harm” Act Would End RFRA’s Religious Impositions, Says Center for Inquiry

For Immediate Release: May 18, 2016
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) applauds and supports the introduction of the “Do No Harm Act,” an amendment to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that would prevent its use in situations that involve third-party harm, helping to end the law’s sanctioning of religious discrimination and imposition.

The measure, introduced this morning by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), would amend RFRA by adding language stating that RFRA should not be interpreted to allow the imposition of one’s religious views or practices upon another, to authorize discrimination against others because of one’s religious views, or to sanction any kind of meaningful harm through a legal exemption. In addition, the amendment guarantees that RFRA cannot be used to deny goods or services to beneficiaries served by government contracts and grants.

“Freedom of religion is a fundamental right that protects all Americans, but this freedom does not include the right to restrict or control the behavior of others,” said Nicholas Little, Vice-President and General Counsel for the Center for Inquiry. “At its inception, CFI was one of very few voices cautioning that RFRA would permit religiously motivated discrimination, whether against religious minorities, the non-religious, women, or LGBTQ Americans. Sadly, we were right. But this fix would help ensure that the law could no longer be used as a weapon to impose one person’s religious beliefs on other unwilling parties.”

“We thank Reps. Scott and Kennedy for taking a bold and important step today to protect the religious freedom and equal rights of all Americans,” said Michael De Dora CFI’s director of public policy. “Members of Congress should put aside their partisan differences and approve this fair-minded amendment. We look forward to working with our partners on Capitol Hill, including religious, non-religious, church-state, and civil rights groups, to move this important measure forward.”

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.