Conservatives say Biden administration proposal to protect charity clients’ religious liberty will destroy conscience protections for faith-based charities

Thursday, March 23, 2023 | Tag Cloud

by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) – Conservative activists have condemned a Biden administration legislative proposal that ostensibly seeks to protect the religious liberty of clients of faith-based charities, claiming the proposed change would wipe out conscience protections for federally funded religious charities themselves, the Washington Examiner reports.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a requirement that religious charities in receipt of federal funding must give their clients written notice of their nondiscrimination policies, including a right to refuse “to attend or participate in a religious practice” as part of a charity’s services, and referrals to alternative services if clients object to the charities’ programs, the Examiner said.

The DHHS has said the proposed change would increase access to federally funded services and would apply to the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and Veterans Affairs, and the Agency for International Development, the Examiner reports.

In a statement against the proposal, the conservative First Liberty Institute said: “The proposed amendments would delete existing regulatory text that acknowledges the [Title VII] exemption provides a defense to claims other than religious-discrimination claims. … The agencies’ cramped view of the religious employer exemption is wrong. The agencies’ changed view about the scope of the religious employer exemption contradicts the text of Title VII, flouts the great weight of federal-court precedent interpreting the exemption and in many applications risks violating [the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act].”

The proposed changes were open for a 60-day public comment period, which ended on March 13. The agencies will now review the submissions, and develop the final rules, the Examiner said.

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