GC Official to Testify Before the U.S. Congress

ames D. Standish, an associate director of the General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department and the church's liaison to the U.S. Congress, will join other witnesses in testifying before a Congressional hearing February 12, urging legislators to sponsor the lately reintroduced Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

"Americans don't accept bigotry in our media, in our schools, or in our government; and we certainly shouldn't accept bigotry against people of faith in our workplaces," Standish wrote in a letter that concerned U.S. citizens can send to their congressional representatives.

The Act, originally brought before Congress in 2005, now garners broad, bipartisan support in both houses of the U.S. Congress, Standish said. If enacted, it would protect and expand rights first introduced 40 years ago when Congress passed workplace freedom legislation under the umbrella of the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claims of religious discrimination climbed 83 percentbetween 1992 and 2006, while other claims of discrimination--including race, gender, and age--either held steady or decreased.

Standish and other faith leaders fault narrow interpretation of existing workplace freedom legislation for the rise. "As Congress has worked to give rights to many groups in the workplace, it has left Sabbath keepers and other people of faith far behind."

Workers, Standish added, should not be required to choose between fulfilling job requirements and fully practicing their respective faiths. "This is a common sense, reasonable bill that simply requires employers to show they have a good reason to refuse time off on Sabbath before they fire [a person of faith]," he said.

                                                                                                                                 —Elizabeth Lechleitner/ANN

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