ACLU Comment on Proposed Trump Administration Regulations on Religious Freedom

January 16, 2020 5:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration proposed multiple new regulations today that will roll back critical legal protections under the guise of religious liberty.

The proposed regulations would revoke key protections for beneficiaries of government-funded social services, eliminating requirements that religious providers refer individuals who ask to a secular alternative and notify individuals of their rights. Agencies affected touch nearly every area of life, and include: Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Labor, Agriculture, Education, Justice, Homeland Security, and International Development.

The regulations also would make it more difficult for some individuals to access critical social services funded by the government. Specifically, the new rules would ease certain restrictions that have prevented federally-funded religious social service providers from imposing religious requirements on individuals seeking help or turning them away just because they are LGBTQ or follow a different faith, in situations where no secular alternative provider is available.

“We will keep saying this as long as we have to: Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but it does not confer a license to discriminate,” said Heather Weaver, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Government-funded programs, including those operated by faith-based organizations, should not be able to discriminate against vulnerable people seeking help. We will submit comments vigorously opposing these proposed regulations.”

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