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In 1993, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, signed broad consensus legislation to protect religious liberty, with support from religious conservative groups and the American Civil Liberties Union alike, which helped it sail through Congress.
Twenty-five years later, however, religious freedom has become a highly contentious issue, and many Democrats and liberal groups have sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said Wednesday.
Whitaker - Shift - Democrats
Whitaker expressed regret about the shift by Democrats.
“Today, many of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act’s] original supporters, including the ACLU, have changed their mind,” he said in remarks at The Heritage Foundation.
Years - States - Version - Religious - Freedom
“In recent years, when some states have attempted to pass their own version of [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act], they have been met with bitterness and hostility,” Whitaker said. “Meanwhile, others have disregarded both the spirit and the letter of [the law]. They have tried to use the power of the state to make people choose between following their core beliefs and being ‘good citizens’ even when it is not remotely necessary.”
The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, sponsored by then-Rep. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., cleared the House unanimously and passed the Senate 97-3, when both chambers were controlled by Democrats. It took effect in November of that year.
Law - Government - Individual - Exercise - Religion
The law states the federal government can’t burden an individual’s exercise of religion unless it is in seeking to further a compelling public interest, and even then must do so by the least restrictive means.
Whitaker cited cases where the federal government tried to force nuns to provide contraception and of the Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Colorado baker penalized by that state for refusing to design a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.
Senators - President - Donald - Trump - Nominees
He also noted that Democratic senators have attacked President Donald Trump’s nominees for their religious views.
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