FFRF lauds Biden proposal to restore religious liberty protections
FFRF is encouraged to see the Biden Administration’s announcement that it proposes restoring religious liberty protections for beneficiaries of federally funded social services. FFRF, along with a coalition of service and advocacy organizations, filed a lawsuit at the end of President Trump’s term against eight federal agencies for undoing rules to protect individuals receiving social services from such discrimination.
All proposed rules would roll back discriminatory practices from the Trump administration. Taking these steps would protect beneficiaries by requiring that they be notified of their right to be free from discrimination on the basis of religion, making clear that all covered social service programs may not discriminate on the basis of their religion. The agencies would be encouraged to fund domestic programs that help beneficiaries identify alternative secular service providers in their area if they object to a faith-based provider.
Previously, federal rules had required faith-based organizations providing critical, taxpayer funded services to inform recipients of their legal right to not be discriminated against, not to have to attend religious programming, and to be given the option for a referral to an alternate provider. The rules helped protect the most vulnerable from being forced to attend a bible study or join in a prayer in order to access basic services, such as food or shelter. Under the current rules, those seeking these services may needlessly opt into religious activities or forgo assistance altogether in order to avoid religious coercion.
FFRF’s lawsuit seeks to have the Trump administration’s rules declared a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and reverse the rollback of these important protections.