ADL Strongly Cautions Against Efforts to Use Religion As License to Discriminate

New York, NY, February 17, 2017 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is strongly cautioning against efforts to use religion as a license to discriminate. During a February 16 House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearings on “The State of Religious Liberty in America,” ADL highlighted the importance of church-state separation and religious accommodation in public schools, in government-funded social welfare services, in the military, and before state legislative bodies.

The League’s statement also criticized anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination under the guise of religion.

“As an organization with deep roots in the Jewish community, we do not come to this position out of hostility towards religion. Rather, our position reflects a profound respect for religious freedom and a deep appreciation for America’s extraordinary diversity of religious communities,” said Ian Scharfman, Chair of ADL’s Religious Freedom Task Force. “Safeguarding religious freedom requires constant vigilance, and it is especially important to guard against one group or sect seeking to impose its religious doctrine or views on other.”

“The U.S. government should not sanction discrimination in the name of religion – and it should not fund it,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The right to individual religious belief and practice is fundamental.  But there should be no license to discriminate with the weight of government authority or funding.  Religion should not be used as a sword to restrict someone else’s rights or to thwart federal or state civil rights or anti-discrimination laws.”

ADL’s statement also referenced amicus briefs the League had filed in challenges to President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration and refugees. The brief traces America’s history as a nation dedicated to ideals of equality, liberty and justice, and elevates immigration restrictions, which have tested these ideals.


The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of antisemitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

More from this Section