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The Freedom to Work, the Freedom to Worship

The Freedom to Work, the Freedom to Worship

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Crosby Burns and Jeff Krehely examine the religious exemption of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in more detail and compare it to religious exemptions found in the nation’s major employment nondiscrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Crosby Burns and Jeff Krehely examine the religious exemption of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in more detail and compare it to religious exemptions found in the nation’s major employment nondiscrimination law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Published by: Center for American Progress on Jun 08, 2012
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06/11/2012

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1Center or American Progress |  The Freedom to Work, the Freedom to Worship
 The Freedom to Work,the Freedom to Worship
 The Employment Non-Discrimination Act AdvancesWorkplace Equality and Protects Religious Liberty
By Crosby Burns and Jeff Krehely June 2012
omorrow he Senae Commitee on Healh, Educaion, Labor, and Pensions will holda hearing on he Employmen Non-Discriminaion Ac o 2011. I passed ino law i would nally prohibi employmen discriminaion on he basis o sexual orienaionand gender ideniy. Te las ime he commitee held a hearing on his criical piece o legislaion was in November 2009.Te Employmen Non-Discriminaion Ac, or ENDA, is sorely needed.
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Gay 
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and rans-gender workers ace exraordinarily high raes o discriminaion on he job, inicingsignican economic pain on many workers a a ime when all amilies are sruggling osay aoa.
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Considering i remains perecly legal in a majoriy o saes o re someone based simply on heir sexual orienaion or gender ideniy, ENDA would nally pu inplace uniorm and comprehensive proecions or he gay and ransgender workorce.
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In addiion o advancing workplace equaliy or gay and ransgender employees, ENDA also includes a criical provision ha saeguards religious organizaions’ consiuionalrighs and religious reedoms. Specically, Secion 6 o ENDA provides religiousorganizaions (which are broadly dened) a subsanial exempion ha allows hemo coninue o ake sexual orienaion and gender ideniy ino accoun when makingemploymen decisions. In his way ENDAs religious exempion is broader han oherlaws ha provide exempions o religious organizaions wih respec o employmen. Wih his exempion ENDA in no way poses a hrea o religious reedom, conrary o he misleading claims o conservaive opponens o workplace airness. Te anigay  American Family Associaion, or example, assers ha “ENDA does no conain a su-cienly broad exempion or religious organizaions,” despie he ac ha ENDA clearly gives religious organizaions wide laiude o consider sexual orienaion and genderideniy when making employmen decisions.
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In ac ENDA’s religious proecion lan-guage is parly why dozens o aih-based communiies and religious organizaions havecome ogeher in voicing srong suppor or ENDA.
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2Center or American Progress |  The Freedom to Work, the Freedom to Worship
Poliically, he bill’s religious exempion is needed o advance ENDA and ulimaely secureemploymen proecions or gay and ransgender Americans. Tis brie examines hisexempion in more deail and compares i o religious exempions ound in he naion’smajor employmen nondiscriminaion law, ile VII o he Civil Righs Ac o 1964.
Religious exemptions under Title VII
Beore we discuss he religious exempions in ENDA specically, i is rs imporan oundersand how religious exempions work under ile VII o he Civil Righs Ac o 1964, upon which ENDA is based.
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 ile VII prohibis employers rom discriminaing on he basis o race, color, religion,sex, or naional origin.
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Addiionally, i includes a criical exempion ha allows religiouseniies o make employmen decisions—such as hiring, promoing, and ring—basedon an individual’s religion. Specically, Secion 702(a) o ile VII saes:
Tis subchapter shall not apply to … a religious corporation, association, educationalinstitution, or society with respect to the employment o individuals o a particular reli- gion to perorm work connected with the carrying on by such corporation, association,education institution, or society o its activities.
Secion 703(e)(2) o ile VII similarly reieraes ha religiously run or religiously owned schools may also ake an individual’s religion ino accoun when making hiringor ring decisions.In oher words, alhough ile VII does no exemp religious eniies rom discrimina-ion based on race, color, sex, or naional origin, i does carve ou an exempion haallows hose eniies o discriminae on he basis o religion. A Luheran elemenary school, or example, may re a eacher or being a Mormon. Bu i may no re a eacheror being Asian American or or being a woman.In 1987
 
he Supreme Cour armed ha ile VII’s religious exempion allows aih- based organizaions o discriminae on he basis o someone’s religion, even whenhe employee’s work is secular in naure. Te Cour ruled in
 Bishop v. Amos
ha aMormon Church could require is janior o pracice Mormonism and could ermi-nae his employmen i he reused.
 
3Center or American Progress |  The Freedom to Work, the Freedom to Worship
Religious exemptions under ENDA
Like ile VII, ENDA includes explici language wih exempions or religious organiza-ions. ENDA’s religious exempion, however, is in some ways broader han ile VII’s,since i gives religious organizaions license o discriminae on he basis o sexual orien-aion and gender ideniy—no jus on he basis o religion.Secion 6 o ENDA saes:
Tis Act shall not apply to a corporation, association, educational institution or institution o learning, or society that is exempt om the religious discrimination provisions o title VII o the Civil Rights Act o 1964 pursuant to section 702(a) or 703(e)(2) o such Act.
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 Wha his means is ha jus as religious organizaions may ake ino accoun an indi- vidual’s religion wih respec o employmen decisions, ENDAs religious exempionallows religious organizaions o also ake ino accoun an individual’s sexual orienaionor gender ideniy. In oher words ENDA gives religious organizaions a legal righ odiscriminae on he basis o sexual orienaion and gender ideniy.By conras, ile VII does no permi religious organizaions o discriminae onhe basis o an individual’s race, color, sex, or naional origin. Going back o our ear-lier example, under ile VII a Luheran school can hire or re a eacher or being aMormon, bu no or being a woman or or being Asian American. I ENDA passed, aLuheran school would also be able o re or no hire a eacher or being gay or ransgen-der, bu would sill no be able o do so or being a woman or or being Asian American.In his way ENDA’s religious exempion is broader han ha ound in ile VII.Moreover, ENDA’s religious exempion applies o he same universe o religious andreligiously aliaed insiuions ha are exemp under ile VII.
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Tey no only apply ohouses o worship such as churches, synagogues, and mosques, bu also schools whose pri-mary purpose is religious worship or eaching religious docrines. Tis includes schools haare owned (in whole or in par), conrolled, or managed by religious insiuions.
Why ENDA’s religious exemption is important
 A is core ENDA is abou ensuring ha all Americans can go o work in an envi-ronmen ree o discriminaion. By including such a broad exempion or religiousorganizaions, ENDA is also abou proecing religious reedoms. Freedom o Work,a nonpro organizaion dedicaed o securing policies ha level he playing eldor gay and ransgender workers, saes clearly why he religious exempion is such acrucial componen o ENDA:
ENDA gives religiousorganizations a legalright to discriminateon the basis o sexual orientationand gender identity.

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