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Shaheen Joins Bicameral Effort to Strengthen Protections, Restore Intent of Federal Religious Freedom Law

**Legislation aims to restore the original intent of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act so it cannot be used improperly by individuals to discriminate or impose their religious beliefs on others** 

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen joined Congressional Democrats this week to reintroduce the Do No Harm Act, legislation led by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and U.S. Representatives Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jamie Raskin (MD-08) and Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05) to re-impose the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s (RFRA) original intent of prohibiting individuals and businesses from using religion as a basis to deny others’ civil rights. 

“The freedom to exercise one's religious beliefs is enshrined in the Bill of Rights, but it should never be used as a tool to violate someone else's First Amendment Right. The RFRA was established to expand and protect religious minorities, not to discriminate against others. The coopting and weaponization of the RFRA cannot continue,” said Senator Shaheen. “I am proud to cosponsor the Do No Harm Act, which will work to restore the RFRA to its original intent of providing protections to freely practice religion without undermining or infringing upon the civil rights of others.” 

Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in 1993, expanding civil rights protections for religious minorities. However, decades of systematic efforts by organizations and businesses have worked to undermine the original intent of the law and have allowed it to be used to legally discriminate against others. The Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. allowed corporations to rely on the RFRA to deny certain health care services to employees. The Supreme Court’s 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County indicated the RFRA could be a “super statute” that supersedes protections against employment discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Just last year in Texas, a District Court judge ruled that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employer coverage for HIV-prevention medication known as PrEP drugs, violate the RFRA. The Do No Harm Act limits the use of the RFRA in cases involving issues of discrimination, wages and collective bargaining, access to health care, government contracted social services, public accommodations and child labor and abuse.