Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Labor Department Issues New Guidance On Religious Liberty Protections

The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week (May 15) that it has issued a directive and a guidance to advance religious liberty protections. the directive, among other things, instructs DOL to:
Ensure religious organizations are given the opportunity to compete equally with non-religious organizations for Federal financial assistance at the Federal and State levels.
The Guidance (full text) implements Executive Order 13798 in connection with federal grants administered by DOL. The Guidance says in part:
Religious organizations that receive DOL financial assistance retain their programmatic independence from Federal, State, and local governments and may continue to carry out their missions and maintain their religious character. This autonomy includes, among other things, the right to use the organizations’ facilities to provide DOL-supported social services without removing or altering religious art, icons, scriptures or other religious symbols, and the right to govern themselves and to select board members on a religious basis. Faith-based organizations, like all organizations receiving DOL financial assistance, must not use direct DOL financial assistance to support any explicitly religious activities... [including] for example, worship, religious instruction, and proselytization....
If an organization conducts explicitly religious activities using non-DOL funds and also offers social service programs using direct DOL support, then that organization must offer the explicitly religious activities at a time or in a place that is separate from the programs receiving direct DOL support....