Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill in 1993 called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a measure that bars the federal government from discriminating against religious Americans. The Senate bill passed, and then-president Bill Clinton signed it into law.
Courts apply the strict-scrutiny standard of review under RFRA when determining whether a federal law violates the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. Christian retailer Hobby Lobby sought an exemption from the Obamacare contraceptive mandate under this law. And won. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that requiring closely held corporations to pay for drugs that could induce abortions (against their religious beliefs) violated federal law.
Fast-forward to 2019, and liberal lawmakers are trying to renege on that protection law. Christian Headlines reported that 120 liberal lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives signed on to a bill that would impinge on religious freedom. An excerpt:
Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy (Mass.) is sponsoring a bill, the Do No Harm Act, that would amend the 1993 law so it doesn’t apply to a series of situations. Among those exceptions would be a federal rule protecting against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in public housing. Also exempted would be anything “denying a person the full and equal enjoyment of a good, service, benefit, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation, provided by the government.” It applies to government contracts and grants. It also would impact health care and, potentially, the issue of abortion.
“By passing the Do No Harm Act, we can reestablish the sacred balance between religious liberty and the personal liberties of those who have too often had their civil rights bargained away,” Kennedy said when it was introduced.
The Do No Harm Act (H.R. 1450) has124 co-sponsors, all Democrats.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Matthew Sharp said the law “demonstrates outright hostility and intolerance for certain people of faith. It hand-picks certain religious beliefs and practices — specifically those related to abortion, sterilization, marriage, and human sexuality — and deprives certain disfavored religious minorities of federal law’s protection. But these believers are Americans too.”