Catholic World News

USCCB: religious freedom, conscience rights under fire in DC

March 23, 2015

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, joined by five bishops who serve as chairmen of committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, have asked Congress to rescind two laws recently enacted in the District of Columbia.

In a letter to members of Congress, the bishops explained:

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) prevents religious institutions, faith-based organizations, and pro-life advocacy organizations from making employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held beliefs. For example, they could be forced to hire, retain and promote individuals whose public speech and conduct contradicts their missions …

The Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA) repeals the Nation's Capital Religious Liberty and Academic Freedom Act (also known as the “Armstrong Amendment” after Senator William Armstrong) passed by Congress in 1989 and made part of the District of Columbia code. Importantly, the Armstrong Amendment ensures that the D.C. Human Rights Act cannot be construed to require religiously affiliated schools to officially endorse, fund, or provide other assistance for the promotion of human sexuality or sexual conduct contrary to the schools’ faith and moral beliefs. Although there are different beliefs regarding human sexuality and sexual conduct, religiously-affiliated educational institutions ought not be forced under penalty of law to support beliefs contrary to their teachings.


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