ADF to Congress: DC must abandon bills coercing organizations against their missions

ADF joins other DC groups calling on Congress to respect freedom of conscience
Thursday, February 05, 2015

Attorney sound bites:  Casey Mattox  |  Steven H. Aden

WASHINGTON – Alliance Defending Freedom and other religious and pro-life organizations sent letters to Congress Thursday that ask it to veto two recently passed District of Columbia laws that force religious and pro-life organizations to operate contrary to their missions and sincerely held beliefs.

“The government has no business forcing pro-life and faith-based organizations to betray the very values they were created to advance,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “These laws are an egregious attack on religious freedom and freedom of conscience. Congress should exercise its authority to stop these hopelessly illegal bills rather than allow D.C. officials to waste American taxpayer dollars defending the indefensible.”

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act of 2014 prohibits even pro-life and religious organizations from “discriminating” against employees and potential employees for any “reproductive health” decision, including elective abortions. The law would also force employers to provide health insurance for elective abortions regardless of the organization’s religious beliefs or pro-life mission.

The Human Rights Amendment Act of 2014 requires faith-based educational institutions to endorse and to provide school resources to individuals and groups who oppose the schools’ religious teachings on human sexuality.

The letters note that both laws violate constitutionally protected freedoms and federal law, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. As a federal district, D.C. laws are subject to review by Congress before they go into effect. After the D.C. Council sends them to House and Senate leaders, Congress has 30 legislative days to “disapprove” the bills or they will become law.

“Both laws violate the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association protected by the First Amendment and other federal law…,” the letters state. “Justices Alito and Kagan wrote in their concurrence in Hosanna-Tabor that ‘it is easy to forget that the autonomy of religious groups…has often served as a shield against oppressive civil laws.’ While we will continue to serve the city and the nation, we cannot surrender the constitutional freedoms that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution rightly reserved to all of us.”

“Americans must be free to exercise their constitutionally protected liberties without fear of punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden. “That is a principle that D.C. officials and members of Congress should all be willing to respect.”

In addition to ADF, the signers of the letters include representatives from the American Center for Law and Justice, the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, the Archdiocese of Washington, The Catholic University of America, Concerned Women for America, Eagle Forum, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Family Research Council, Heritage Action for America, Knights of Columbus, March for Life Education and Defense Fund, National Association of Evangelicals, National Organization for Marriage, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

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