(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.