10.06.17

Senator Lankford Statement on Administration Actions to Protect Religious Freedom

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today applauded the Department of Justice’s guidance on religious freedom, and the interim final rule issued by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Treasury, and Labor, on conscience protections:  

“I applaud today’s guidance issued by the Department of Justice and the clarity it provides for a fundamental American right – religious freedom. As the guidance notes, ‘religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice.’ It is not the place of government to determine what a person’s religion requires. The ability to live out your faith, or have no faith, is a First Amendment right; the federal government must honor that as much as possible, especially when there are reasonable accommodations. The fundamental right to the free exercise of religion was also evidenced in today’s rule issued by the Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services Departments. That rule not only provides conscience protections to those who have religious or moral objections to requirements in a health care plan, it also concluded that previous mandates violated federal law. Colleges, universities, nonprofits, and people should never be placed in a position where they have to violate their faith to please the government.”

Of note, today’s Labor, Treasury, and Health and Human Services Departments regulation said, "We have concluded that requiring such compliance through the Mandate or accommodation has constituted a substantial burden on the religious exercise of many such entities or individuals, and because we conclude requiring such compliance did not serve a compelling interest and was not the least restrictive means of serving a compelling interest, we now believe that requiring such compliance led to the violation of RFRA in many instances.’”

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