The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is still being debated in the U.S. Senate and House. Even though the House version has already passed, lawmakers are considering stripping out language that provides religious freedom protections for chaplains and other people of faith who serve our country.
At issue is what’s known as the Russell Amendment language. This amendment, which has been a part of the legislation for decades, simply allows religious organizations that have federal contracts to hire employees that share their faith. That’s according to Title VII, a federal employment law.
According to the Family Research Council (FRC), the problem started a few weeks ago.
“Liberal activists started a tweet storm attacking the Russell provision,” a statement from FRC explains. “Around the same time, 42 liberal senators sent a letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, asking them to strip the Russell Amendment from the NDAA Conference Report.”
FRC goes on to say removing the language forces religious organizations “out of the contracting sphere and hurts those they serve, like refugees, veterans, and children.”
If the conference committee agrees to strip the language, then the bill goes back to the full House to be voted on again. That causes more unnecessary delays.
Autumn Leva, policy director for Family Policy Alliance, said religious freedom should continue to be protected.
“It shouldn’t be controversial,” she said. “This isn’t something new and the existing language has worked for decades. The final bill that gets sent to Obama should include these important religious freedom provisions.”
Use our Action Center to contact your representative and senators and urge them to keep the Russell Amendment language in the NDAA.