Religious Liberty Under Attack in the Nation’s Capital
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Last Updated Date: 
04/28/2015

Congress Should Stop D.C. Council’s “Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act” (RHNDA) and “Human Rights Amendment Act” (HRAA). Help is needed to stop two dangerous pieces of legislation recently passed by the Council of the District of Columbia and signed by the mayor. These acts, RHNDA and HRAA, are subject to disapproval by Congress.  On March 6, 2015 the D.C. government forwarded these laws to Congress, which has limited days to pass resolutions of disapproval.

These laws “violate the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, as well as by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and other federal laws,” according to letters sent to House and Senate on March 20 by the Archbishop of Washington along with the chairmen of five committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Congress should be urged to block these laws.

Recommended Actions:

  • Send e-mails through NCHLA’s Action Center at: nchla.org/actiondisplay.asp?ID=316
  • Contact your Representative and Senators by phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call their local offices.
  • Use Social Media: Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, Google + and other outlets. Insert the suggested hashtags below in your messages so that Congress will be able to see every one of them on a tag board specially created for this issue.  Please send your social media messages today with #ReligiousFreedom and #FreeSince1791. Some suggested language follows.

Suggested Message:

By phone, letter or email:

“Please act to rescind the District of Columbia’s Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and Human Rights Amendment Act, (HRAA). Congress should stop these acts of government coercion which undermine our cherished freedoms, especially in our Nation’s Capital.”

Twitter:

#Congress must protect religiously affiliated #DC schools from unlawful government coercion #FreeSince1791 Stand up for #ReligiousFreedom

#Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof#FreeSince1791#ReligiousLiberty

Rescind #RHNDA & #HRAA! They harm faith & mission-driven organizations in #DC #Congress should protect our #ReligiousLiberty!

FaceBook and Google+ Posts:

Part of practicing one’s religion is teaching it to others. Under #HRAA, The Human Rights Amendment Act, religiously affiliated schools who take action consistent with their religious beliefs on marriage and human sexuality could be subjected to expensive and time consuming lawsuits. #FreeSince1791#ReligiousFreedom

Congress should protect religiously affiliated schools located in #D.C. from unlawful government coercion, not subject them to it. Download the #FreeSince1791 graphic, snap a photo and tell Congress to take action todayhttp://dccathcon.org/social-media-graphics/

 

When: Please act immediately and continue until notified. Congress may act on resolutions of disapproval as early as Thursday, April 16, 2015.

Background

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress ultimate control over the laws of the District of Columbia; once Congress receives a law from the D.C. government it has 30 legislative days to pass a resolution of disapproval, and may take other steps after that time.

RHNDA and HRAA were sent to Congress on March 6.  RHNDA forbids all employers to “discriminate” in hiring, firing, promotion and job benefits because an employee or his or her family member is making “reproductive health decisions” on matters such as sterilization and abortion.  Even religious organizations could be forced to hire and retain pro-life spokespersons directly involved in choosing elective abortions for themselves or others. Employers may also be told they must provide elective abortion coverage for all employees.  HRAA rescinds a longstanding law (the Armstrong amendment) that has allowed religious educational institutions to decline support for activities and groups hostile to their teachings on sexuality.  Both laws pose an unprecedented threat to religious liberty and other First Amendment rights.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) have introduced joint resolutions of disapproval for RHNDA (S.J.Res. 10) and HRAA (S.J. Res. 11).  Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) introduced a resolution of disapproval for RHNDA (H. J. Res. 43) on April 14, 2015, which was approved in a House committee on April 21. Congress must act on these resolutions soon to stop these bills. If the resolutions do not pass, other action such as amendments to the annual funding bill for the District of Columbia should be considered.  Messages urging Congress to act should begin now and continue until this alert is withdrawn.  For the text of the US bishops’ letter see http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/ADW-USCCB-letter-D.C.-bills-3-20-15.pdf.

Updated 4/28/15