New Guidelines by Justice Department Show Problem with Religious Freedom
Civil liberty groups are worried the United States is moving against secularism. Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a document called the “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty.” This document lists 20 guiding principles that define religious freedom and how the government should correspondingly act.
The document explains the freedom of religion applies to both people and organizations, federal grants don’t require a religious organization to change their system, and those religious organizations don’t need to hire or be asked to take actions that violate their religious principles.
The last principle is drawing the most controversy. It can be used for an organization refusing to offer birth control to their employees. In fact, the Trump Administration has rolled back a measure that requires employer health insurance policies to cover birth control pill.
This means reproductive health could be denied to a woman because of her boss’s religious beliefs. This could also lead to the potential for companies to deny employment to someone based on sexual orientation or whether someone has had a child out of wedlock.
The Deputy Legal Director at the ACLU stated: “it is countenancing discrimination. It is countenancing exercises of faith in a way that will harm other individuals.”
— ACLU (@ACLU) October 6, 2017
AG Sessions earlier this week explained transgender people are no longer protected by civil rights laws about sexual discrimination by employers. This seems to be a continuation of the erosion of rights for LGBT individuals, including the elimination of soldiers that identify as trans being phased out of the military. The Justice Department has stated that these are guidelines, not explicit rules and will not cause discrimination.
The Trump administration is considering expanding the rights of religions by allowing them more freedom to enter political campaigns and receive more disaster relief.