Following up on a commitment stated last week to a leadership delegation of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott announced today that he expects the Religious Liberty Protection Act to be among those pieces of legislation the U.S. Senate will act upon prior to adjourning for the balance of the calendar year. The “Orthodox Union,” which has been working with a broad coalition of partners for the passage of “RLPA,” welcomed Senator Lott’s announcement.
Under current law, a state or local government may pass a law or regulation that interferes with a citizen’s ability to practice his or her religion with little justification. RLPA will require a government to demonstrate that any religion burdening law is pursuant to a compelling interest and is the means of addressing that interest in the least burdensome manner. Thus, RLPA will enable synagogues and other houses of worship to get a fairer hearing when they seek a zoning variance. It will enable those who object on religious grounds to “loyalty oaths” to seek and obtain jobs that would otherwise require such oaths as a condition of employment. It will, in short, protect minority faiths and their adherents in a variety of situations.
Nathan Diament, director of the Orthodox Union Institute for Public Affairs, stated that “Senator Lott’s determination to bring RLPA to the senate floor is very encouraging and we hope it is a sign that the right of Americans to freely and fully exercise their religious rights is one step closer to receiving full protection.”