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North Carolina RFRA a Threat to the Core American Values of Equality and Religious Freedom

North Carolina RFRA a Threat to the Core American Values of Equality and Religious Freedom

“We strongly oppose the North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would allow discrimination against minorities and vulnerable populations. The federal RFRA, by sharp contrast, was designed as a shield to protect an individual’s ability to live out their religious beliefs and practices as promised by the First Amendment, and its goals should not be confused with the intended effect of the North Carolina RFRA.”

Contact: Max Rosenblum or Sarah Greenberg 
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 31, 2015 – In response to the introduction of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act in North Carolina, on the heels of RFRA in Indiana, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:

We strongly oppose the North Carolina Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which would allow discrimination against minorities and vulnerable populations. The federal RFRA, by sharp contrast, was designed as a shield to protect an individual’s ability to live out their religious beliefs and practices as promised by the First Amendment. Its goals should not be confused with the intended effect of the North Carolina RFRA. 

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism led the effort to pass a national RFRA in the 1990s. That law, passed with overwhelming and bipartisan support from members of Congress, was created to protect individuals from government laws that substantially burdened their religious beliefs in counterbalance with compelling government interests. North Carolina’s RFRA bill, however, would allow businesses and individuals to discriminate in almost any situation, regardless of existing protections in the law. When RFRAs are used in this fashion, they not only sanction harm to vulnerable communities but they also undermine the fundamental, bedrock American value of religious freedom.

As Jews, we know intimately the importance of religious freedom protections, which have allowed us – and many other communities of faith – to live freely according to our religious beliefs, practices and observances. As the quintessential victims of discrimination and oppression, it is our duty to speak out and to fight for the rights and protections of all vulnerable communities when they are put at risk. At this sacred time of year, when Jews around the world will gather at Passover seders, we are ever more cognizant of the ongoing journey to liberation and redemption for all people who face discrimination because of who they are. North Carolina’s RFRA continues a dangerous trend in the states that could result in concrete harm to individuals who are members of religious minorities, the LGBT community and other minority groups.

You can also read the RAC's statement on the Indian Religious Freedom Restoration Act at this link.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.