The Biden administration’s Department of Labor announced Tuesday, Nov. 9, that it will repeal a regulation pushed through during the Trump era that allows religious groups, which are federal contractors, to require their staff to hold the same religious beliefs.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) proposes to rescind the regulations outlined in the rule titled “Implementation of Statutory Requirements Regarding Religious Exemption from the Equal Opportunity Clause,” which went into effect on Jan. 8, 2021, during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The rule allows religious groups, which are federal contractors, to exclusively hire people who hold the same beliefs.
The repeal of this rule would have the effect of returning the department’s policy and practice to those that were operative during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Trump’s Labor Department announced the proposed rule in 2019, which was intended to clarify that religious organizations “may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”
Leftist organizations, especially those linked to LGBT sectors, denounced that Trump’s regulation encourages discrimination against people based on their beliefs or sexual choices.
According to what was published by the Department of Labor, Trump’s rule “departed” from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) “longstanding policy and practice of applying principles and case law to interpret the exemption.”
Religious equality watchdog American Atheists praised the Biden Administration and the Department of Labor for its proposal.
“We applaud the Biden Administration for restoring workers’ freedom of religion,” said Alison Gill, vice president of Legal and Policy Affairs. “The government should never fund businesses that justify discrimination based on religious beliefs. And American taxpayers should never be forced to be complicit in discrimination.”
Meanwhile, in a statement to Breitbart News, the Family Research Council’s Director of Federal Affairs for Family and Religious Freedom, Mary Beth Waddell, said the Biden administration is modifying the rules by claiming to respect the existing legal system and promote religious freedom when in truth it is “doing just the opposite.”
“This DOL proposed rule restricts the ability of religious individuals and entities to live out their faith in the public square. This is one of many decisions the Biden administration has made to marginalize religious liberty and elevate other policies in its place,” Waddell said.
According to Waddell, religious organizations should not under any circumstances be denied government contracts and grants just because they claim their employees follow the same religious tenets they do. “They should be allowed to freely exercise their religious freedom and conduct their business in accordance with the tenets of their faith,” she said.