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42 U.S. Code § 2000cc–3 - Rules of construction

(a) Religious belief unaffected

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize any government to burden any religious belief.

(b) Religious exercise not regulated

Nothing in this chapter shall create any basis for restricting or burdening religious exercise or for claims against a religious organization including any religiously affiliated school or university, not acting under color of law.

(c) Claims to funding unaffected

Nothing in this chapter shall create or preclude a right of any religious organization to receive funding or other assistance from a government, or of any person to receive government funding for a religious activity, but this chapter may require a government to incur expenses in its own operations to avoid imposing a substantial burden on religious exercise.

(d) Other authority to impose conditions on funding unaffectedNothing in this chapter shall—
authorize a government to regulate or affect, directly or indirectly, the activities or policies of a person other than a government as a condition of receiving funding or other assistance; or
restrict any authority that may exist under other law to so regulate or affect, except as provided in this chapter.
(e) Governmental discretion in alleviating burdens on religious exercise

A government may avoid the preemptive force of any provision of this chapter by changing the policy or practice that results in a substantial burden on religious exercise, by retaining the policy or practice and exempting the substantially burdened religious exercise, by providing exemptions from the policy or practice for applications that substantially burden religious exercise, or by any other means that eliminates the substantial burden.

(f) Effect on other law

With respect to a claim brought under this chapter, proof that a substantial burden on a person’s religious exercise affects, or removal of that burden would affect, commerce with foreign nations, among the several States, or with Indian tribes, shall not establish any inference or presumption that Congress intends that any religious exercise is, or is not, subject to any law other than this chapter.

(g) Broad construction

This chapter shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of religious exercise, to the maximum extent permitted by the terms of this chapter and the Constitution.

(h) No preemption or repeal

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to preempt State law, or repeal Federal law, that is equally as protective of religious exercise as, or more protective of religious exercise than, this chapter.

(i) Severability

If any provision of this chapter or of an amendment made by this chapter, or any application of such provision to any person or circumstance, is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this chapter, the amendments made by this chapter, and the application of the provision to any other person or circumstance shall not be affected.

Editorial Notes
References in Text

This chapter, referred to in text, was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 106–274, Sept. 22, 2000, 114 Stat. 803, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 2000cc of this title and Tables.