SHJ Opposes VAWA Non-Discrimination Limits


Farmington Hills, MI, June 10, 2014 – The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) joined 90 religious, education, civil rights, labor, LGBT, women’s, and health organizations in a request to Attorney General Eric Holder that the Office of Legal Council (OLC) withdraw its June 29, 2007 Memorandum, which states that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) provides a blanket override of statutory nondiscrimination provisions. According to a Justice Department FAQ, this interpretation will be used to undermine the plain language of the non-discrimination provision in the 2013 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA bars organizations from engaging in employment discrimination with VAWA funds, but, because the OLC Memo governs administration policy, the explicit intent of Congress is being ignored, and the administration is granting exemptions from this non-discrimination provision to religious organizations that wish to use religion as a criterion when hiring employees using taxpayer dollars. Such exemptions threaten core civil rights and religious freedom.