Bills Renew Attack on Religious Freedom Law

National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) has long opposed legislative efforts that leave people of faith vulnerable to discrimination in the public square. NRB is particularly concerned with the reintroduction of two misleadingly named bills – the “Equality Act” and the “Do No Harm Act” – that specifically target the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which was signed into law in 1993 by President Bill Clinton.

Sponsors of both bills claim that their sweeping legislation would right wrongs of discrimination; however, intentionally or not, supporters of such bills that gut RFRA are actually promoting government coercion and discrimination against people of faith who – with malice toward none – wish to live their daily lives without being forced to violate their religious beliefs on the sanctity of life, marriage, and other matters.

RFRA was crafted to protect the equal rights of citizens whose religious beliefs are unpopular in America’s halls of power. The law does not guarantee outcomes in legal proceedings. It simply provides a court balancing test to ensure deference to the constitutional right of religious liberty unless there is found to be a “compelling government interest” achieved by the “least restrictive means.”

RFRA’s reasonable shield against undue government coercion united conservatives and liberals in the past. Together they worked to prevent the undermining of RFRA when powers-that-be found its defense of America’s first freedom to be inconvenient.

Sadly, the elites of today’s Left find the law to be an intolerable obstacle, and they have convinced a powerful alliance of corporate leaders to join their cause, particularly in regard to the Equality Act. Given the proactive targeting of a law that simply bolsters America’s first freedom, political and corporate leaders would do well to carefully evaluate the full scope and ramifications of what they are being pushed to support.

Last year, NRB’s Board of Directors, a body of nearly a hundred leaders in Christian communications, unanimously stated in a resolution that “the U.S. Government must faithfully preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee that all citizens are free to speak and free to exercise the tenets of their faith in daily life.”

The Board also declared, “NRB urges Congress and state legislatures to pass laws preventing government intolerance and discrimination against those who adhere to biblical understandings of gender, sexuality, and marriage.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: March 15, 2019

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