December 10, 2020

Manisha Sunil, West End Strategy Team; Phone: 202-417-0171

Interfaith Alliance: SCOTUS Ruling on RFRA “step in the right direction,” More Needed to Protect Religious Minorities

WASHINGTON — Earlier today the Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in Tanzin v. Tanvir, clarifying the nature of “appropriate relief” available under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Passed and signed into law in 1993, RFRA established a clear standard by which federal courts should evaluate a potential violation of religious freedom. The claimants in Tanzin, placed on the “No Fly List” after rebuffing FBI agents’ pressure to inform on their religious communities, sought money damages against the agents in their personal capacities.

Katy Joseph, director of policy and advocacy for Interfaith Alliance, released the below statement following today’s ruling:

The respondents in this case were targeted for one simple reason: because they are practicing Muslims, active in their religious communities. Their ability to seek redress is a matter of religious freedom and today’s decision bolsters our shared right as Americans to believe as we choose, without fear of discrimination or coersion. 

In an ideal world, a discriminatory government policy would be changed before it could cause harm. But as we, along with religious and civil rights allies, stated in an amicus brief earlier this year, money damages are often the only meaningful way to address the harm caused by a religious freedom violation.

Interfaith Alliance was founded on the conviction that true religious freedom can only be achieved when all of us can believe as we choose, regardless of faith or philosophy. Our celebration today is tempered by our concern for the growing misuse of religious freedom – and often misrepresentation of RFRA itself – as a means to impose one’s beliefs on others. In the coming months we urge Congress to pass the Do No Harm Act, clarifying the meaning of RFRA so that it can be used to protect – not victimize – religious minorities.

If you are interested in speaking further with Katy, please contact Manisha Sunil at or (202) 417-0171.

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit