ACLU Comment on Trump Administration’s Final Rule on Religious Freedom

December 14, 2020 5:15 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration issued a final rule today rolling back critical legal protections for beneficiaries of government-funded social services.

The new rule revokes key protections requiring government-funded religious providers to notify beneficiaries of their religious freedom rights and refer individuals to an alternative secular provider if they request one. Agencies that have adopted the rule touch on nearly every area of life and include the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Agriculture, Education, Justice, Homeland Security, and the Agency for International Development.

The rule also makes it more difficult for some individuals to access vital social services funded by the government. Specifically, in situations where no secular alternative provider is available, the final rule eliminates certain restrictions that have prevented federally funded religious providers from imposing religious requirements on individuals seeking help or turning them away just because they are LGBTQ or follow a different faith.

Below is comment from said Heather Weaver, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief:

“This rule will harm the very people that government-funded social services are supposed to help — marginalized individuals and communities. Now, those seeking assistance will likely suffer even more discrimination or be forced into unwanted religious exercise. Government-funded social services should not be allowed to discriminate against any beneficiary. Religious freedom is a fundamental right, but it cannot be used as a license to discriminate. The incoming Biden administration must work to reverse this rule as soon as possible.”

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