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RFRA: Religious Freedom or License to Discriminate with Toni Van Pelt

September 21, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Based on religious objections with increasing frequency, we are seeing individuals, businesses, organizations, and institutions claiming a right to discriminate by refusing to provide services to women, LBGTI people and the disability community and by resorting to hiring discrimination.

These are the same arguments that were used in the 1960’s to oppose laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate. We even saw some religiously affiliated universities refuse to admit students who engaged in interracial dating. Now the radical right is working to expand allowance of this discrimination for “moral” reasons.

Imposing beliefs on others who do not share them goes against the very fiber and core of Secular Humanist, Feminist and shared American family values and principles. Ms. Van Pelt will discuss the history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and outline the damage it has done to date and the potential for future damage. She will also discuss ways you can help to stem the tide of religious special exemptions to the rule of the law and to assist and insist in the establishment of secular moral principles in American Culture.

Toni Van Pelt is co-founder, president, and Congressional lobbyist of the Institute for Science and Human Values. She launched and directed one of the first public policy offices of the secular humanist movement in Washington DC, focusing on the importance of science, the use of empirical evidence as the basis for public policy, separation of church and state, secularism, and women’s and LGBTQI rights. She continues in that role today.

She regularly presents on a variety of issues including proposed federal legislation and regulations, human rights, how to effectively participate in federal and state government, how to lobby legislative bodies and on the United Nations Conevention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). As a secular humanist, feminist activist and citizen of the world, she serves on the board of the Institute for Humanist Studies, is the Chairwoman of Americans United for Separation of Church and State Speakers Bureau, and on many of the boards and committees of the National Organization for Women since 1989.

The New York Society for Ethical Culture is a humanist community dedicated to ethical relationships, social justice, and environmental stewardship. Entry to our 100-year-old building and meeting rooms is available for most wheelchair users with prior arrangements. Please call ahead (212-874-5210 x 107) for setup of our portable system and plan to arrive one hour before start time.


September 21, 2016
6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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