Accommodating religious practices in the workplace

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And we want to make that available to you today, although we won’t be discussing it at any great length.

The next panel will address the specific interests of those in the workplace.

We are working very hard right now to try and get on the floor of the Senate the Senate version of the bill, the CARE Act.

It was passed in the House, and obviously it’s undergoing some changes to make it acceptable on the Senate floor, but I do think that there’s a good likelihood that we can get that through this year.

If we can, that would be obviously a terrific achievement for all of us, and would really be an important contribution to helping to change the national debate on religious issues.

One of the things this president had often talked about is compassionate conservatism.

The government cannot directly fund religious programs or religious organizations.

On the other hand, to abide by that obligation, it does not mean that we have to divorce the public square 100 percent from religious values, religious people, religious communities. The Free Exercise Clause is often left out in discussions of the proper role of religion in American society, and we’re all expecting a decision in the next several weeks from the Supreme Court on a very important case having to do with vouchers for parents.

There is a sense, I think, among some people in the country that we have to have this inviolate separation between church and state, and that means, in a sense, we almost have to be hostile to religion wherever it exists. Obviously, we have to make sure that we abide by the Establishment Clause, that Congress does not establish any religion in this country.

Finally, for those of you who have made reservations for lunch, we’ll adjourn into the next room, and we’ll hear remarks from Nathan Lewin, a distinguished attorney who has addressed these issues before many august audiences, including the United States Supreme Court. law firm, and served under the first Bush administration. So, I will go ahead and introduce him, and depending on his schedule, we may allow for a little Q&A if he has to leave the conference a bit early.

And we should have a sizeable chunk during that lunch period of time to allow for back and forth discussion among all of us, and with Nathan Lewin. Jay Lefkowitz, we’re very glad that you’ve been able to join us today. Lefkowitz is Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Thank you very much, and we’re very glad that you could come and address this topic from your position with the current administration. I appreciate the opportunity to be here to talk to you briefly this morning.

I think that was another educational moment for our country on this very important issue.

Let me offer a brief overview of the conference at this point, because we’ve got a lot to do, and little time to do it in.

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