By former Reps. Frank Wolf and Tony Hall, the Washington Examiner.
If the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is swept away, the first victims will be minority faiths and those assisting the poor.
Both of us have served in Congress—one as a Democrat; one as a Republican. We have dedicated our careers to advocating on behalf of the poor and marginalized in the United States and around the world. We are motivated to do so because we are followers of Jesus, not any one political party.
We have routinely called on foreign governments to protect religious minorities in their own countries, recognizing that religious freedom is the cornerstone of all other freedoms. However, recent events in Indiana and now Arkansas have caused us to direct our attention toward home.
As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we took part in a unanimous vote in 1993 to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), the model for many of the state level laws now under scrutiny — and in some cases, under attack. RFRA passed the Senate with 97 votes and was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress was mirrored by a diverse supporting coalition of civil society and faith-based groups, including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the National Association of Evangelicals, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
These groups, which have little else in common and rarely find common cause, came together because RFRA promised to take religious liberty out of “standard interest-group politics” that too-often favored the well-connected few, and put all religious believers—minority and majority, rich and poor—on a level playing field.