Re: religious freedom restoration a
22 Nov 1993 08:07:22

In article <199311211819.AA21467@corona.astr> chicken@astro.UMD.EDU writes:
>From: chicken@astro.UMD.EDU
>Subject: religious freedom restoration act
>this is what we have been able to get on the religious freedom restoration
>act so far. If anyone has the complete text or more information please
>send it to us ASAP. This may prove to be very important.

Yes, important, but perhaps in a good way. I read about it in messages
from the Friends Committee on National Legislation that were posted on
soc.religion.quaker. The F.C.N.L. strongly supported the bill when it
was in Congress. Now it's "the law."

Basically, this act is intended to counter recent Supreme Court
decisions that put the power in the government's hands to suppress
a variety of religious practices. In one important case, two Native
American men were fired from their jobs at a community center when it
was shown that they had participated in a peyote ceremony. The
community center was Federally funded, and the law was that no-one
who uses illegal drugs shall work for federal money. So even though
peyote ceremonies are legal for Native Americans in that area, the
Feds were denying them their livelihood because of their religious
practice. The Supreme Court upheld the (Reagan/Bush admin) Feds,
setting precedents that could have been used much more widely.

The government may still have a "compelling interest" in suppressing
certain religious practices, according to the new legislation, but
they must demonstrate this "compelling interest" in every instance
where their actions affect people who are practicing their religion.
In other words, religious practitioners now get the benefit of the
doubt, and it's up to the government to prove otherwise. "Compelling
interest" would hold in a prison, for instance, if Rainbows held
inside said that their religion required ceremonies in open meadows
and on top of mountains (outside of prison walls :-)

I've tacked excerpts from a recent F.C.N.L. posting at the very end
of this message, with information on how to contact them. Also, I've
cross-posted this message in both groups -- alt.gathering.rainbow and
soc.religion.quaker -- because there are some folks on the quaker side
who have more information than I do about the act. Anyone who follows
up to this message will be posting in both groups.

I think the Rainbow Family are facing a lot of the issues that the
Quakers have been struggling with for several centuries, so it would
be excellent if the Rainbow's legal liason were in touch with F.C.N.L.
And maybe some of the other issues that we share could be discussed
in threads cross-posted between the two groups.

Food-Not-Bombs (San Francisco Fractal Factory) has posted in both
newsgroups, by the way.

> H.R.1308 (C103):
> Nov 16, 93 Became Public Law No: 103-141.
> Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 - Prohibits any
> agency, department, or official of the United States or any State
> (the government) from burdening a person's exercise of religion
> even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability,
> except that the government may burden a person's exercise of
> religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden
> to the person: (1) furthers a compelling governmental interest;
> and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that
> compelling governmental interest.
> Sets forth provisions pertaining to judicial relief, attorney's
> fees, and applicability.

------ excerpted from FCNL posting in soc.religion.quaker ------
| This is the Friends Committee on National Legislation,
| with updated legislative information. To speak with a
| staff member, call (202) 547-6000.
| * * *
| This concludes our message. For more information, please
| write to the Friends Committee on National Legislation,
| 245 Second Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002. To follow
| these and related issues on a regular basis, read the
| FCNL WASHINGTON NEWSLETTER. Send $25 to the above
| address to receive 11 issues per year.
--------------------- end excerpts ---------------------

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