Dear Chairman King and Ranking Member Cohen:
As the Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, I submit this letter to you today for the record of this Subcommittee’s hearing on “The State of Religious Liberty in America.” Appended you will find a letter from more than 3,000 clergy, faith leaders and lay leaders in opposition to the so-called First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) (H.R. 2802 in the 114th Congress), organized with our partners at Auburn Seminary.
We are concerned by FADA, and many similar policies under consideration, that use religious freedom—and religion more broadly—as an excuse to discriminate against broad swaths of our society. Within the faith community, there is broad and diverse opposition to legislation like FADA. This is illustrated in the attached letter, which was sent most recently to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in July, 2016, for the record of a hearing on this legislation.
The faith leaders who signed this letter serve diverse religious communities across the United States—Baptists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and so many others—and are unified by the belief that this legislation does nothing to protect religious freedom. Rather, draconian legislation like this actually undermines the true spirit of religious freedom by favoring one religious viewpoint over another and, in the process, discriminating against LGBTQ people, single mothers and unmarried couples. Such legislation would open the door to unprecedented taxpayer-funded discrimination, but it would do nothing to support true religious freedom. Thank you for your consideration.
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block
Director, Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Full PDF version of letter