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June 28, 1991 - Image 40

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-06-28

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

441 01111.1fr

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40

FRIDAY, JUNE 28, 1991

181 S. Woodward Ave.
Birmingham, MI 48009

642-1690

Trouble Ahead For
Religious Freedom Bill

Rep. Stephen Solarz,
D-N.Y., was scheduled to in-
troduce the long awaited Re-
ligious Freedom Restoration
Act this week, despite the
apparent failure of weeks of
sensitive negotiations bet-
ween supporters of the mea-
sure and the Catholic Chur-
ch.
The bill seeks to overturn
a Supreme Court decision in
the so-called "peyote" case
— a decision that Jewish ac-
tivists fear could open the
door to all kinds of govern-
ment intervention in re-
ligious practices.
But the Catholic Church
has argued that the bill
could make it harder to
outlaw all abortions because
some religious traditions
might mandate abortion
under certain conditions.
The Church wants specific
language prohibiting such
claims under the terms of
the legislation.
Jewish groups that have
made the bill a top priority
will not accept a measure
with anti-abortion language.
In recent weeks, Mr.
Solarz met with Church
representatives to work out

Rep. Stephen Solarz

a compromise. But now
there are indications that
the Catholics are seeking
sponsors for their own, com-
peting bill.
"Basically, the Catholics'
proposal has absolutely no
chance of moving on the
Hill," said an official with a
major Jewish organization.
"All it does is complicate the
process — and make it that
much harder for us to pass a
bill that would protect the
fundamental rights of all re-
ligious minorities."

Bill Will Protect Workers'
Religious Observance

For Jewish activists, the
flip side of the Civil Rights
Act of 1991 may soon be on
the congressional calendar.
A bill dealing with re-
ligious accommodations in
the workplace —protecting
the rights of workers whose
religion requires special
concessions from employers,
like the right not to work on
Shabbat — will be introduc-
ed sometime in the next few
weeks.
The American Jewish
Congress, the American
Jewish Committee and the
Anti-Defamation League are
reviewing draft language of
the proposal, which would
overturn court decisions that
made it harder for workers
whose religious practices re-
quire special accommoda-
tions from their employers.
The package will get a big
boost because of promised
support from the Leadership
Conference on Civil Rights,
the umbrella civil rights
group embroiled in the fight
over the Civil Rights Act of
1991.
Last year, when a similar
civil rights package was in
the works — a bill ultimate-

ly vetoed by President Bush
— some Jewish groups had
complained that the mea-
sure did not include any pro-
tections for religious obser-
vance.
The Leadership Con-
ference decided to keep the
civil rights bill tightly focus-
ed on racial and gender dis-
crimination — but agreed to

A bill dealing with
religious
accommodations
in the workplace
protecting the
rights of workers
whose religion
requires special
concessions from
employers — will
be introduced.

support separate legislation
on religious accommoda-
tions.
That promiSe is now com-
ing due, and all indications
suggest the civil rights
group will actively support
the religious accommoda-
tions bill.

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