Washington, DC — The Secular Coalition for America released a statement today applauding the reintroduction of the Do No Harm Act. The Do No Harm Act would amend the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to ensure that it cannot be used to cause harm to a third party or allow for discrimination based on personal beliefs. The bill was reintroduced by its original sponsors, Representatives Joseph Kennedy, III (D-MA) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
“Invoking your beliefs to discriminate against others is not an exercise of religious freedom but an assertion of religious privilege,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “For too long, RFRA has been exploited by businesses and organizations who think their religious beliefs put them above the law. The Supreme Court cases of Hobby Lobby v. Burwell (2014) and Zubik v. Burwell (2016) demonstrated how the loopholes in RFRA can be used to impose religion on others. The Do No Harm Act is a much needed and long overdue correction to RFRA. We are grateful to Representatives Kennedy and Scott for reintroducing this legislation and their continued efforts to champion true religious freedom.”
The reintroduction of the bill comes nearly one month after the Secular Coalition for America hosted its annual Lobby Day and Secular Values Summit in Washington, DC. Participants at this year’s event lobbied their elected officials to support the reintroduction of the Do No Harm Act.
The Secular Coalition for America honored Representative Bobby Scott with its National Visibility Award at its annual awards dinner on June 14. In his acceptance speech, Rep. Scott announced his intent to reintroduce the Do No Harm Act, stating, “[T]he principle that individuals can use their conscience-based objections to undermine otherwise applicable civil rights laws sets a dangerous precedent … Religious freedom should be a shield, but now it is being used as a sword. To prevent this, Congressman Joe Kennedy and I will reintroduce the Do No Harm Act.”
Polls have found widespread public support for the protections included in the Do No Harm Act. A 2015 poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that 59% of Americans oppose religious exemptions from nondiscrimination laws. A 2016 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 67% of Americans believe employers with religious objections to birth control should still be required to provide coverage to their employees.
“No one’s right to government services or public accommodations should ever depend on passing the scrutiny of someone else’s religious belief,” said Decker. “Secular government, as our founders intended, is not a partisan issue. We encourage all members of Congress — Democrat and Republican — to support this bill in an effort to ensure the greatest freedoms for all and to ensure that freedom of religion guarantees freedom from religion.”
The Secular Coalition for America has released an Action Alert to its supporters instructing them to contact their members of Congress and urge them to support the Do No Harm Act.
Contact: Casey Brescia
Communications Associate and Spokesman
[email protected], (845)-380-6201
The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.