The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Laws passed by Congress and state legislators are supposed to be in line with the U.S. Constitution. However, there is a bill currently in the House of Representatives that not only undermines the First Amendment, it also cancels out The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. H.R. 5 is a nightmare for those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of religion.
The Heritage Foundation lists seven problems with the bill:
1. It would penalize Americans who don’t affirm new sexual norms or gender ideology.
2. It would compel speech.
3. It could shut down charities.
4. It would allow more biological males to defeat girls in sports.
5. It could be used to coerce medical professionals.
6. It could lead to more parents losing custody of their children.
7. It would enable sexual assault.
All of these problems have already arisen. Please follow the link to The Heritage Foundation to view the details.
The Liberty Counsel posted an article on May 10 detailing one major aspect of H.R.5. The article states:
HR 5, in the U.S. House, and S. 788, in the Senate, misnamed the “Equality Act,” takes the unpreceded step of eliminating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) as a claim or defense to the application of many federal laws. This bill drastically alters religious freedom in all cases, not just those involving LGBT.
For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 permits houses of worship to make employment decisions based on religion. This recognizes the essential right for houses of worship to employ those who align with their religious doctrine. The “Equality Act” would abolish this fundamental right. Catholic and Christian churches could be forced to hire atheists. If a synagogue preferred a Jew over a Muslim, it would not be able to raise RFRA as a claim or defense.
RFRA is a federal law that protects religious freedom. Specifically, it “prohibits any agency, department, or official of the United States or any State (the government) from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, except that the government may burden a person’s exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person.”
However, HR 5 clearly forbids raising RFRA as a claim or defense to the application to the “Equality Act” and many other federal laws that would be amended by this bill.
This “Equality Act” extends the federal protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy, i.e. abortion. HR 5 applies to employment, housing, rental, public accommodation and more. In addition, the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” will be defined to mean “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.” In other words, under the terms of this bill, “pregnancy, childbirth or a related medical condition… shall not receive less favorable treatment than other physical conditions.” The “Equality Act” also expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.”
After passing the House Judiciary Committee recently, the “Equality Act” will now go to the House next week and then be sent to the Senate, where the bill number is S. 788.
If you value religious freedom in America, please call your Senator and tell them to vote against this bill. It will probably pass in the House of Representatives, but needs to be stopped in the Senate. If you are not a religious person and don’t think this is a problem, remember that if the government can undo religious freedom, it can also undo other freedoms. You might not be impacted this time, but if this bill passes, there will be more to follow.