Labor Department Proposes New Religious Exemptions Rule for Federal Contractors to Make Their Own Employment Decisions

The Labor Department.

The U.S. Department of Labor on Wednesday released a proposed rule to “clarify” the rules on religious exemptions for groups that contract with the federal government.

In an announcement, the Labor Department explained that the proposed rule, if implemented, would allow religious organizations contracted with the federal government to determine their own employment decisions.

The Department cited recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, statutes, and executive orders to justify the proposed rule, which will begin public comment on Thursday.

Cited decisions from the Supreme Court included Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the high court ruled that a Colorado baker was wrongfully punished for refusing to make a same-sex wedding cake on religious grounds.

Another cited decision was Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the high court ruled that a closely-held family business did not have to adhere to a federal mandate on coverage of birth control and abortion inducing drugs.

“Today’s proposed rule helps to ensure the civil rights of religious employers are protected,” said Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella.

“As people of faith with deeply held religious beliefs are making decisions on whether to participate in federal contracting, they deserve clear understanding of their obligations and protections under the law.”

At issue was an amended version of Executive Order 11246, an Obama-era directive that added sexual orientation and gender identity to its list of anti-discrimination rules that disqualified religious organizations from retaining or seeking federal contracts because they did not comply with progressive views on LGBT issues.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski