NARLA Calls on Congress to Address Workplace Religious Discrimination
As Congress returns to work after its summer recess and the Labor Day weekend, a broad coalition is calling on Congress to address the problem of religious discrimination in the workplace. “The most pressing issue in the labor force today is the penchant of some employers to demote, demean and dismiss employees in retaliation for employee’s unwillingness to compromise their religious principles,” states James Standish, Executive Director of the North American Religious Liberty Association. Standish co-chairs a coalition of 45 religious organizations pushing for the passage of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act (S. 677, H.R. 1445). Senators Rick Santorum and John Kerry are the odd couple lead sponsors of the bill in the Senate. A similarly unusual left-right coalition of sponsors has developed in the House where Congresswoman McCarthy and Congressman Mark Souder lead the effort to pass the bill. The bill is supported by everyone from the American Jewish Committee through to the Southern Baptist Convention and virtually every other major religious denomination in between.
“We hear a lot about religion today. Many of our leaders would rather slap up Ten Commandment monuments than do something practical to protect the ability of real working folks who are being pressured to choose between their job and their faith,” states Standish. “Forget about symbolism, let’s focus on substance. And the substance of the matter is this – employers are increasingly denying the right of employees to attend church, take off the Jewish high holy days, to wear a turban or a crucifix. Something needs to be done. WRFA is that something.”
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act will require employers show a significant reason before they fire someone in retaliation for fulfilling their faith commitment.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is fighting tooth and nail against the bill. They have created a list of outrageous religious practices they say will be privileged if the bill passes. “The Chamber’s efforts are transparent nonsense,” states Standish. “New York State has a Workpalce Religious Freedom Act and the Chamber has not been able to show one single abuse under that law.” Experts note that the Chamber has a history of opposing any kind of protection for workers – thus their opposition to WRFA is not surprising. With so many Members of Congress addicted to large contributions from special interest businesses represented by the Chamber, some experts expect a very tough battle ahead. “We are not intimidated by the Chamber’s money,” notes Standish, “we have faith that enough Members of Congress can get in touch with their conscience and do the right thing. The Chamber’s anti-employee efforts have been defeated before, and they are going to be defeated again.”
For more information or live interviews:
James D. Standish, JD, MBA, North American Religious Liberty Association Headquarters, Washington, DC, – (202)316-1393
Alan J. Reinach, Esq., NARLA-West, Los Angeles (805) 413-7398
To send your letters to Congress, go to www.ReligiousLiberty.info.