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Letter | ADL is an ardent advocate for the religious freedom of Jews and all Americans

To the Editor:

In their [article in these pages](“Why are liberal Jewish organizations undermining religious liberty?,”), Howard Slugh and Mitchell Rocklin completely misconstrue the Anti-Defamation League’s long history of religious freedom advocacy and the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania.

For over a century, ADL has been an ardent advocate for the religious freedom of Jews and all Americans. To that end, we have filed legal briefs in support of employee and inmate religious accommodations, the constitutionality of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the ministerial employee exception for houses of worship. In Congress, we advocated for stronger religious accommodations in the workplace and military.

But this case has nothing to do with accommodating Sabbath observers or other religious practices. It involves the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, which requires employer health insurance policies to cover prescription contraception without cost sharing. Houses of worship are already fully exempt from it. And religiously affiliated groups and close corporations with religious objections can opt out of it simply by submitting a one-page form or short letter. This opt-out provision protects religious liberty.

The new rules before the Court are essentially a license to discriminate against women. They exempt virtually any employer, including large public corporations, with a religious or moral objection. The term “moral objection” is so broad that it could encompass almost anything.

In our day-to-day work, ADL tirelessly works to secure accommodations for Jews and others in schools, the workplace and public accommodations. But our religiously diverse society could not function without some reasonable limits on accommodations. ADL’s position in this case simply mirrors longstanding precedent that the First Amendment’s religion clauses are a shield for faith, not a sword to harm others.

Joseph Berman

Chair, Legal Affairs Committee

ADL (the Anti-Defamation League)

Mr. Berman is an attorney and litigator in Boston, Massachusetts.


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