05.04.17

Scott, Conyers Statement on Latest Trump Actions to Enable Discrimination

WASHINGTON – Committee on Education and the Workforce Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Committee on the Judiciary Ranking Member John Conyers (MI-13) issued the following statement after President Trump signed an executive order on the National Day of Prayer, that allegedly promotes “religious liberty”:

“Religious liberty is a fundamental American value.  However, the executive order signed today by the Trump Administration would permit individuals to use their 'conscience-based objections' to override civil rights protections.  The principle that individuals can use their 'conscience-based objections' to undermine generally applicable civil rights laws sets a dangerous precedent. 

“This executive order also takes the dangerous step of directing the IRS to relax its enforcement of the law.  It would change the law and force the tax-paying public to subsidize churches who endorse political candidates and views. This executive order would erode the protective wall that separates the public’s financial support for the good work carried out by houses of worship from the partisan political activities. 

“Further, this executive order invites greater risk of accountability since the broad IRS exemption already provides for a very flexible definition of what constitutes a "church."  Two years ago, satirist John Oliver started a fake church, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, to illustrate the already lax standards. After demonstrating his point, Mr. Oliver closed his "church" after one month and donated the thousands of dollars he had raised.

“Simply put, on this Day of National Prayer, we must reaffirm the Constitution’s principles that protect religion from politics and politics from religion. Today’s actions also highlights why Congress must adopt the Do No Harm Act, legislation that would preserve the protections of the Civil Rights Act.”

In the 114th Congress, Ranking Member Scott introduced the Do No Harm Act with Congressman Joe Kennedy—the bill will be reintroduced in the 115th Congress.

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