Americans United's Press Statement
in Support of The Do No Harm Act
Delivered by AU Legislative Director Maggie Garrett | May 18, 2016
Thank you Representative Kennedy and Representative Scott for introducing the Do Not Harm Act. And thank you also for inviting Americans United here today so that we can speak to why we support this important piece of legislation.
Americans United was founded almost 70 years ago by a broad coalition of religious, education, and civic leaders to fight for religious freedom.
It is that mission that led us to join the many groups that supported the passage of RFRA in 1993. And it is also that mission that brings us here today to support the Do No Harm Act.
Although we still believe that RFRA serves an important purpose, we are also now deeply troubled that the law increasingly is being used to harm others. Here are just two examples:
- Hobby Lobby, a business with tens of thousands of employees, is using RFRA to refuse to provide women insurance coverage for contraception.
- And, remarkably, the federal government is currently using RFRA to allow recipients of government grants to ignore employment non-discrimination laws.
Religious freedom means we are all free to believe—or not—as we see fit. But it has never meant we have the right to discriminate against, or deny rights and services to other people.
That is why we need the Do No Harm Act. The bill will clarify that RFRA cannot be used to harm others while, at the same time, preserving RFRA’s power to protect religious liberty.
The Do No Harm Act will allow us to continue to use RFRA to grant important accommodations for religious exercise, but only where they do not harm others—such as when a Sikh soldier seeks to serve his country while wearing his articles of faith.
We are proud to stand here today to support the Do No Harm Act because it will restore RFRA to its original purpose: RFRA should be a shield that protects religious exercise rather than a sword to harm others.
And we greatly appreciate the leadership of Representatives Scott and Kennedy on this issue.