|For Immediate Release
July 21, 2014
Manassas, VA– The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) expressed strong disagreement with today’s action by President Obama to issue an ENDA-like Executive Order applying to federal contractors with no specific protection for religious liberty.
“Again this Administration has shown intolerance for constitutional religious liberty rights when they may not perfectly sync with the wish lists of LGBT, abortion, and other powerful liberal lobbies,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB. “While the provisions of the Senate-passed ENDA were dangerously unsatisfactory, the White House’s unilateral decision to jettison any such religious freedom language is incredible and unacceptable.”
Dr. Johnson sent a letter last month to President Obama requesting that he reconsider issuing this ENDA-like Executive Order.
“ENDA remains convoluted for employers committed to honoring the tenets of their faith in the workplace,” Dr. Johnson said. “Indeed, I am concerned that ambiguity regarding the rights of religious organizations is likely to compromise one of our nation’s First Amendment liberties and to stir litigation.”
ENDA (S.815/H.R.1755) would create new employment rights for individuals based on their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.”
The full text of Dr. Johnson’s June letter is below:
Dear Mr. President,
As President and CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), I write regarding your stated intention to issue an Executive Order applying to federal contractors certain employment provisions similar to pending legislation, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). NRB has long warned against the ramifications of this bill on the First Amendment rights of faith-based organizations, and I am concerned similar constitutional challenges may arise for some federal contractors with such an order from the White House.
In June 2012, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee invited Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President and General Counsel, to testify in its hearing about ENDA. In his testimony, Mr. Parshall outlined NRB’s religious freedom concerns with this bill:
We oppose [ENDA] because… (1) it generally illustrates the kind of unaccommodating approach to religious organizations that was recently rejected by a unanimous decision of the Supreme Court; (2) the insufficient “religious exemption” provisions of this bill would permit a substantial and unconstitutional burden to be placed on religious organizations; and (3) court decisions dealing with “gender identity” type employment discrimination claims indicate that a legal remedy is already available for such claims under existing Title VII law, also subsuming within them numerous “sexual orientation” claims as well.
Unfortunately, even as amended by some well-meaning Senators, the Senate-passed ENDA remains convoluted for employers committed to honoring the tenets of their faith in the workplace. Indeed, I am concerned that ambiguity regarding the rights of religious organizations is likely to stir litigation and to compromise one of our nation’s First Amendment liberties. Given this concern, we respectfully ask that you reconsider this ENDA-like Executive Order.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter and for your leadership of the United States.
Jerry A. Johnson, Ph.D.
President & CEO
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers. Our mission is to advance biblical truth; to promote media excellence; and to defend free speech. In addition to promoting standards of excellence, integrity, and accountability, NRB provides networking, educational, ministry, and fellowship opportunities for its members. Learn more at www.nrb.org.
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The annual NRB International Christian Media Convention is the largest nationally and internationally recognized event dedicated solely to assist those in the field of Christian communications. The dynamic Exposition consists of around 200 companies and is an active marketplace for those seeking tools and services to expand their organizations. NRB 2015 will be held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, TN, February 23-26, 2015. For more information, go to www.nrbconvention.org.
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