Last week, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report focused on religious freedom following a 2013 briefing where AU’s then-Legal Director Ayesha Khan testified.
The report affirms that religious freedom is fundamental to our nation’s history, protected by our Constitution and laws. These laws ensure people can practice their religious beliefs, unless doing so results in discrimination. The chairman of the Commission explained it like this, “Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over other religions, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others.”
The report includes recommendations that reflect this understanding of religious freedom. For example, any exemption from laws and policies that protect against discrimination must be necessary and narrow. And religious exemptions created under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) should not impose burdens on others. It specifically recommends, in fact, that Congress and state legislatures should amend the federal and state RFRAs to ensure that these laws are not used to undermine civil liberties and civil rights protections.
That’s exactly why we support the Do No Harm Act, a bill that would preserve the federal RFRA's power to protect religious liberty but also clarify that it may not be used to harm others.