Biden to Abolish Trump Rule Protecting Religious Freedom of Federal Contractors
The DOL announced on Tuesday it would roll back Trump's rule
The Biden Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed scrapping Trump's rule protecting the religious liberty of organizations that contract with the federal government.
The DOL announced on Tuesday it would roll back Trump's rule that went into effect on January 8.
The rule allows religious groups that are federal contractors to hire people holding the same beliefs.
The Trump Labor Department announced the proposed rule in 2019, which aimed to clarify that faith-based organizations “may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”
But the Biden administration indicated it intended to overturn the rule after organizations argued it encouraged discrimination against LGBTQ individuals.
The Biden administration said the Trump rule “departed from” the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) “longstanding policy and practice of applying principles and case law to interpret the exemption.”
According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Jenny R. Yang:
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ proposed rescission would protect against discrimination and safeguard principles of religious freedom. With this proposal, OFCCP would simply return to our policy and practice of considering the facts of each case and applying Title VII principles and case law and other applicable law.
Family Research Council’s director of Federal Affairs for Family and Religious Liberty, Mary Beth Waddell, said Biden is actually “couching its change in terms of following precedent and the law to promote religious freedom,” and “doing the opposite.”
Waddell said in a statement:
This Department of Labor proposed rule curtails the ability of religious individuals and entities to live out their faith in the public square. This is one of many choices the Biden administration has made to sideline religious freedom and elevate other policies in its place.
“Religious freedom must protect the ability to practice and exercise sincerely held religious beliefs in the public square,” she added. Waddell noted the Trump administration:
…understood this and did not tamper with what constituted a religious exemption in this rule, but rather defined the terms and added a rule of construction in favor of the broadest protection of religious exercise ‘permitted by the U.S. Constitution and law.’
Waddell explained that, under the Trump-era rule, “religion” was defined as including “all aspects of religious observance and practice, as well as belief.” She went on:
The Biden administration’s move away from this definition is bad news. Faith-based entities should not be denied government contracts and grants just because they want their employees to follow the same faith tenets they do. They should be allowed to freely exercise their religious freedom and run their business in accordance with the tenets of their faith.
A statement was released by American Atheists praising Biden's new proposed rule:
“The government should never fund businesses that justify discrimination based on religious beliefs,” said Alison Gill, the group’s vice president for legal and policy.
“And American taxpayers should never be forced to be complicit in discrimination.”
President of American Atheists, Nick Fish, said:
“Finally, atheists, LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities will see these important protections restored.”
“Let me be clear: The people who will be complaining about this change do not care about religious freedom—they only care about how they can use religion as a weapon against people different from them,” he stated.
President of American Principles Project, Terry Schilling, said the proposed rescission of the Trump-era rule was a sign that “Joe Biden’s anti-American war on our fundamental freedoms continues.”