Secular Coalition for America Proposes Radical Religious Freedom Bill
Washington, D.C.-- Today the Secular Coalition for America announced a new legislative effort to introduce a religious freedom bill into Congress. The move comes in response to a wave of attempts by lawmakers at the state and federal level to privilege their personal religious beliefs at the expense of minority faiths, the LGBT community, and people of no faith.
The proposed legislation is as revolutionary as it is short, with the body of the bill only 17 words long. It reads in its entirety: "Whereby Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Entitled the "Separation of Church and State Act", the bill would provide sweeping protections for people of all faiths and none, guaranteeing every American the freedom of, and from, religion. Two companion bills in the House (HR. 1789) and Senate (S. 1791) are scheduled to be introduced.
Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, expressed his confidence that if passed by Congress, the bill would be all that is needed to ensure a secular government. "We proposed this legislation in response to the disturbing trend of so-called ‘religious freedom' bills that explicitly threaten our religious liberties. Just this week the Mississippi legislature passed a bill so broad it would allow religiously-based discrimination by state employees against LGBT couples and even single mothers" Decker said. "The Secular Coalition for America believes this bill will send a clear and bold message that the government should maintain a policy of strict neutrality, neither favoring nor persecuting any religion."
The bill reflects a crucial component of the Secular Coalition for America's mission, which is to "strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all." Since it's founding in 2002, the Secular Coalition has advocated for complete government neutrality in matters of religion.
Decker acknowledged that, if made law, the Separation of Church and State Act would have major implications for a wide range of policy areas. "Necessarily, the act would prohibit lawmakers from inserting their personal religious views into public policy. This would effectively overturn hundreds of laws currently privileging religion, including the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts in 22 states, religious exemptions for child protection laws in 44 states and would restore protections for reproductive and LGBT rights." When asked if he was worried that the bill's short text might leave it open to misinterpretation, Decker responded; "We think it's pretty self-explanatory."
Contact: Casey Brescia, [email protected], (845)-380-6201
The Secular Coalition for America is the nation's premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.
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