It sounds nice — Religious Freedom — but in this case, it could cause a lot of problems.
The Workplace Religious Freedom Act (HR 1431) would actually allow for religious persecution and harassment the way it is currently written.
The Secular Coalition for America sent a letter to members of the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, Pensions, which will soon be considering this bill. Excerpts from the letter are below (emphasis mine):
The Secular Coalition for America, dedicated to protecting the rights of nontheists, is very concerned about HR 1431. The Workplace Religious Freedom Act will empower individuals to use its religious freedom protections as a weapon against co-workers and clients who do not hold or share their religious beliefs.
The purpose of this legislation is to strengthen current protections to require employers to accommodate the religious needs of their employees in such areas as observing religious holidays, wearing religious apparel, and religious requirements for beards and hairstyles; however, the language of this legislation goes much further.
As written the legislation would encourage employees to ignore employer policies prohibiting religious proselytizing in the workplace, religious condemnation of co-workers, and inserting religion into secular workplace practices and activities. The courts have already seen these types of cases and ruled against them, but HR 1431 puts these precedents into question.
Employees and clients have a right to a workplace free from religious harassment and coercion. This bill must be changed to protect these rights.
Religious tolerance as far as personal freedoms go is commendable and should be protected.
But we have to make sure religious freedom doesn’t trump personal rights to live and work in safe environments.