The US president Joe Biden wanted to rescind a Trump-era broadening of regulatory exemption protecting religious employers against being forced to hire individuals who don’t share the organisation’s faith, views or practices. But the Civil Liberties advocates won’t let him have it.
In a proposed rule posted Nov. 9 on the Federal Register for official public comment, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) said it had proposed in 2019 a revision that is now viewed as going too far in broadening the definition of “religious freedom” in hiring by federal contractors and subcontractors.
The Trump rule was intended to make clear that an individual could not be fired because of a religious-based objection to being required to participate in actions or pronouncements favouring homosexual or transgender practices. In addition, an employer could legally decline to hire an individual whose sexual practices or claimed gender conflicted with a clearly stated religious belief.
Public interest law firms specializing in litigation on behalf of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom of practice and assembly said the Biden administration’s attempt to repeal the Trump-era regulation indicates an anti-religion prejudice.
“Religious liberty means that the government cannot force religious organizations and businesses to abandon their religious identity in order to partner with the government. The pattern of hostility toward religion that we’re seeing from the Biden administration is disturbing,” said Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications for the Plano, Texas-based First Liberty Institute.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of the Orlando, Florida-based Liberty Counsel said he’s not surprised by the Biden proposal. “This has been Biden’s practice all along, including when he was part of the Obamacare campaign. He’s anti-religious freedom and anti-Christian,” he said.
Both First Liberty Institute and Liberty Counsel are representing hundreds of employees of the U.S. military and the federal civilian workforce, as well as corporations, health care organizations and private businesses in seeking to force the Biden administration to recognize religious exemptions to the president’s recent orders requiring workers to receive the vaccination against the CCP Virus.