Constitution Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Religious Liberty Protection Act
Chairman Canady's Opening Statement
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on H.R. 4019, the Religious Liberty Protection Act. RLPA prohibits the government from placing a substantial burden on religious practices unless it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest such as health or safety. Following is Rep. Charles T. Canady's opening statement from the hearing:
"This is the fourth hearing the Subcommittee on the Constitution has conducted over the last year concerning the protection of religious liberty in the wake of the Boerne v. Flores decision of the Supreme Court. Today's hearing will focus specifically on H.R. 4019, the 'Religious Liberty Protection Act of 1998,' legislation which Mr. Nadler and I introduced last week.
"From the outset of our history as Americans, concerns about religious liberty have been central to our national experience. The bill we consider today is based on the conviction that the Congress has an ongoing responsibility to use its constitutionally-established powers to protect the freedom of individual Americans to practice their faith against undue incursions of the force of government.
"It is a fact of life that the actions of government will from time to time come into conflict with the religious practices of some individuals and institutions. As the scope of the activities of government has grown, the occasions for such conflict have increased. The bill on which we will hear testimony today simply attempts to ensure that such conflicts will be taken seriously, and that the impact of government action on religious freedom will be given full consideration. As our witnesses will explain, that does not mean that conflicts between the actions of government and the religious practices of individuals and institutions will always be resolved against the government. It does mean, however, that within the scope of the activities subject to protection by the Congress, the value of religious liberty will not be recklessly trampled by insensitive policies and thoughtless bureaucratic action.
"In America we enjoy many important freedoms. But there is no freedom more fundamental than the freedom to practice one's faith without the interference of government. That's why we are here today."
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