On Thursday, February 25, 2021, members of Congress reintroduced the Do No Harm Act in the House of Representatives. With the broad support of nearly 100 civil rights, LGBTQ+ equality, faith-based, health, and labor organizations, the bill would ensure that religious freedom remains a shield to protect personal belief – not a sword to be used against others.
The Do No Harm Act clarifies and restores the original purpose of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Passed in 1993, RFRA received near unanimous support in Congress and was signed into law by President Clinton. But in recent years, bad faith interpretations have distorted RFRA’s protections to justify discrimination and grant individuals and businesses the authority to impose their religious beliefs on others.
RFRA has been cited by those seeking exemptions to civil rights law and in efforts to deny health care coverage for employees, exclude minority groups from federally funded social services, and impede justice in child labor and abuse cases. These claims often hurt the very people RFRA was designed to protect, undermining the First Amendment in the process. As Congressman Bobby Scott, Chair of the House Committee on Education and Labor, said, “The Do No Harm Act simply provides that RFRA cannot be used to limit access to health care, deny services supported by taxpayer dollars, or undermine the Civil Rights Act or other anti-discrimination protections. Congress must take this critical step to ensure no one can weaponize religious freedom to erode our fundamental civil and legal rights.”
“The right to worship, pray and exercise your religion should never be converted into a right to discriminate against other people in the basic exercise of their own rights,” added co-sponsor Congressman Jamie Raskin. The Do No Harm Act is an essential measure to protect freedom of belief for Americans of all faiths and of none.
Learn more about the Do No Harm Act and its history.