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April 14, 2005

The Religious Prejudice Protection Act

-- by Gary Boatwright

Sen. Kerry and Sen. Santorum have proposed an amendment to the part of the Civil Rights Act that governs unlawful employment practices. The Unlawful Employment Act generally prohibits discrimination by employers based on that individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Three problems:

1.) This bill provides protection to employees for their discriminatory conduct. It actually permits and protects discriminatory conduct, based on unstated religious beliefs. That is a very broad brush. I don't think we have a clue in how many different situations individuals will decide to exercise their "conscience without consequence" rights under this bill.

2.) I believe all of the penalties for non-compliance under the Unlawful Employment Act apply to employers. What is the penalty if a pharamcist or any other employee violates this law? I haven't seen anything about the consequences an employee faces if he or she violates the procedural safeguards built into this amendment.

3.) I could be wrong, but it seems like the penalties would be against the employer for failing to make the proper staffing and scheduling improvements that would allow an employee to exercise their "right" to discriminate based on their religious prejudices.

The fundamental problem is that this is a "conscience without consequence" bill, that protects an unlimited "right" of religious discrimination. I believe a similar battle has played out, in the judicial arena, under our fair housing laws. A person's religious beliefs do not allow them to discriminate against another citizen, in the area of renting or selling housing, based on that persons religious prejudices against blacks, inter-racial couples or gays.

Will this amendment to the Civil Rights Act over rule those judicial decisions sub silentio?


Posted by Gary Boatwright at April 14, 2005 12:31 PM

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Comments

Good point about renting houses. What about Church of the Creator people whose church is racist. Would they be allowed to not rent houses to blacks and Jews?

Posted by: VAdem at April 15, 2005 6:41 AM

So, this comes from the hand of "our" Kerry? Disgusting.

I think the best way to frame this would be to describe it as "a bill to protect employers who discriminate against Jews." More bang for the buck that way... :-)

Posted by: JohnDL at April 15, 2005 10:38 AM

VAdem: I'm not certain about the housing angle. It does seem like this legislation opens the door to exactly the kind of challenge you suggest.

JohnDL: What bothers me the most are the political implications. Santorum is a prime target for Dems in 2006. Now Kerry has helped Santorum by making him look reasonable. Who benefits the most, Kerry and the Democrats or Santorum and the Republicans?

I do not understand what Kerry was thinking. I really don't.

Posted by: Gary Boatwright at April 16, 2005 5:20 PM

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