February 5, 2015
New D.C. Laws Are Unconscionable Assaults on Religious Freedom
WASHINGTON – Today, the Archdiocese of Washington joined with other national and local religious institutions, faith employers, and pro-life advocacy organizations requesting that the U.S. Congress pass a Resolution of Disapproval with respect to two new laws that are unconscionable assaults upon religious freedom in the District of Columbia.
Passed by the D.C. Council in December 2014 and signed into law by the city’s new mayor, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA) and Human Rights Amendment Act (HRAA) would prevent religious institutions from practicing their sincerely held religious beliefs about the sanctity of human life and the truth and meaning of human sexuality. Both laws violate rights guaranteed to the archdiocese by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The archdiocese submitted oral and written testimony against both RHNDA and HRAA, and has met in good faith numerous times with D.C. Councilmembers and their staff in a sustained effort to resolve its concerns at the local level. Despite these efforts, these bills were made law. Given the constitutional matters at stake, the archdiocese is forced to appeal to Congress to intervene.
Cynthia Weiler, Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington, signed the joint letter to the House and the Senate on behalf of the archdiocese. The Archdiocese for the Military Services USA, the Association of Christian Schools International, The Catholic University of America, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Knights of Columbus, National Association of Evangelicals and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention are also signatories.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
Chieko Noguchi, 301-853-4516