Statement of Rabbi David Saperstein Director, Religious Action Center Of Reform Judaismo on the Workplace Religious Freedom Act
September 29, 1999
Today we celebrate the reintroduction of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. This vital legislation would protect religious expression by allowing employees the freedom to observe religious holidays. With the High Holy Days still fresh in our minds, we understand all too well the difficulty of balancing our religious needs with our responsibilities at work. But today, due to a narrow interpretation of the current law by the United States Supreme Court, religiously observant employees too often are forced to unfairly conform their religious beliefs to accommodate their employers.
Over 200 years ago, our founding fathers and mothers sought refuge in this land as they fled from the restrictions and religious persecution of their country. Freedom of religion always has been among our most cherished values. We are a diverse nation, one that embraces many different faiths and tenants. We are a hard-working nation, one that has achieved great power through the sweat and labor of our ancestors. Now we must guarantee that no one should have to choose between their faith and their livelihood. Now we must clarify the law concerning employee's religious practices.
We applaud Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and John Kerry (D-MA) for their leadership. Let us work together to ensure that we see the fruits of our labor during this Congressional session. We urge every Member of Congress to support this effort to protect the value of religious freedom in the workplace.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.