(Washington, DC, July 13, 2017)—Today American Humanist Association (AHA) leaders applauded the introduction of the “Do No Harm Act” intended to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993 to protect individuals’ civil rights. “In recent years, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was used to discriminate against nontheists, religious minorities, the LGBTQ community, women, and many others,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director at the American Humanist Association. “The Do No Harm Act sends a strong signal condemning legalized religious bigotry.” 

The AHA joined a coalition of advocacy organizations in officially endorsing the legislation and working towards its passage. Introduced by Representative Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA), the Do No Harm Act limits the use of the RFRA to prevent it from being used in cases of discrimination, or in disputes regarding child abuse and labor, salary and collective bargaining, access to healthcare and reproductive care, public accommodation law violations, and government-contracted social services. In recent years, RFRA has been weaponized by the religious right in an attempt to deny health coverage for employees, provide an exemption from civil rights and public accommodation laws, and prevent justice in child labor and abuse cases. 

“While RFRA was originally intended to prevent the government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, it has been used in recent years to help individuals willfully discriminate on the basis of religious belief,” said Matthew Bulger, Legislative Director at the American Humanist Association. 

The full text of the Do No Harm Act can be found here. The AHA's press release on the subject can be found here

Matthew Bulger, mbulger@americanhumanist.org202-238-9088

AuthorPeter Bjork

Washington, D.C., 23rd May, 2017)—The American Humanist Association (AHA) welcomes the introduction of H.Res. 349, a resolution designed to protect religious minorities by encouraging the repeal of blasphemy laws around the world. Blasphemy laws put thousands of lives at risk, with many offenders serving long jail sentences or being executed for “insulting” a specific religion. 

The American Humanist Association worked with Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Alex Mooney (R-WV), David Cicilline (D-RI), and John Culberson (R-TX) to reintroduce the legislation, which calls for a repeal of blasphemy laws worldwide. The legislation, which was introduced in the last session of Congress by Reps. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), encourages the President and the State Department to make the worldwide repeal of these laws a priority, while also opposing any attempts at the United Nations to support blasphemy laws.

In many countries, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, non-theists, and other religious minorities are imprisoned, tortured, sentenced to death, and executed for blasphemy offenses. The resolution urges countries that still maintain such laws to “amend or repeal such laws, as they provide a pretext and impunity for vigilante violence against religious minorities.”

“The introduction of this resolution is a step forward for protecting theists and non-theists alike. Freedom of belief is a fundamental human right that is being infringed upon around the world,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “This resolution goes a long way to ensure that these individuals have their religious freedom rights restored.”

“Blasphemy laws target marginalized religious minorities and leave them vulnerable to attacks and imprisonment,” said Matthew Bulger, legislative director of the American Humanist Association. “This resolution can help end the unnecessary threat to religious freedom and basic human dignity that blasphemy laws pose.”

The Resolution can be found here, and the AHA’s press release on the subject can be found here

AuthorPeter Bjork