FRC Action Endorses Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment

On Wednesday FRC Action in Washington, D.C., issued a statement endorsing the proposed Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment.

FRC Action is the legislative affiliate of Family Research Council.

In a nutshell, the proposed amendment to the Arkansas Constitution would:

  • Guarantee that state and local laws will not infringe religious liberty.
  • Enshrine protections for religious freedom into the Arkansas Constitution.
  • Provide people with legal recourse if the government infringes their religious freedoms.
  • Maintain balance in situations in which religious liberty conflicts with a compelling governmental interest.

Voters will decide whether or not to add the amendment to the Arkansas Constitution on Election Day this November.

Below is a copy of FRC Action’s statement endorsing the amendment.

This November, you will have the opportunity to make the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act part of the state constitution by referendum during the 2022 elections. Vote YES on this state ballot initiative to protect religious freedom in Arkansas!

Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (or RFRAs) are nothing new. More than half of the states have them by statute or by court precedent, but we know that religious liberty is under attack as never before. RFRAs simply prohibit the government from burdening religious freedom unless the government meets a high level of legal scrutiny. RFRAs give courts a tried-and-true balancing test for weighing a person’s sincerely held religious beliefs against legitimate state interests, protecting everyone with a conscience regardless of their religion, political views, the content of their beliefs, or how they apply those beliefs.

Arkansas passed a RFRA in 2015, and—despite the ACLU’s disingenuous advocacy—the sky hasn’t fallen: Discrimination isn’t rampant in in Arkansas, because courts know how to apply this balancing test very well. The Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment would make Arkansas’ current law permanent. By enshrining protections for religious freedom into the Arkansas Constitution, the amendment would guarantee that (no matter who takes office in Little Rock in the future) state and local laws will not infringe religious liberty, provide people with legal recourse if the government infringes their religious freedoms, and maintain balance in situations in which religious liberty conflicts with a compelling governmental interest.

This November, vote YES on this amendment to ensure that the religious freedom of Arkansans is clearly protected for decades to come!

Click here to learn more.

Family Council has analyzed the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment and provided information about it on our website. You can find that information here.

Family Council Plans to Educate, Equip Voters on 2022 Religious Freedom Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Little Rock, Ark. – On Tuesday, Family Council unveiled a three-pronged strategy for educating Arkansans about a proposed amendment that adds protections for religious liberty to the state’s constitution.

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “Religious liberty is on the ballot in Arkansas this November. Last year, three-quarters of the State House of Representatives and the State Senate voted to place the Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment on the 2022 ballot. In addition to protecting the freedom to worship at a church, synagogue, or mosque, it protects people’s right to peacefully live, speak, and act according to their sincerely-held beliefs. Over the next seven months, Family Council plans to conduct a statewide campaign to educate voters about this proposed amendment to the state constitution. Arkansans need to be able to make an informed decision when they vote this November. We intend to help them do that.”

Cox said Family Council has a three-pronged strategy for educating Arkansans about the amendment. “Our grassroots campaign will consist of three parts. First we are going to inform and activate our existing network of nearly 7,000 households and churches. Second, we plan to work with other like-minded state and national organizations to help them inform and activate people in their spheres of influence. And third, we intend to conduct an extensive earned-media campaign consisting of Arkansas TV, radio, and newspaper as well as a strong online presence. We don’t know of any groups planning to oppose the amendment. If opposition to the amendment develops, we may work with churches to raise funds for a statewide paid-media campaign as well.”

Cox highlighted some of the information that Family Council will share with voters about the proposed amendment ahead of the November election. “The Arkansas Religious Freedom Amendment amends the Arkansas Constitution. The measure is similar to a state law that Governor Hutchinson signed in 2015. It would help ensure that state and local laws won’t interfere with the free exercise of religion. It outlines some of the steps Arkansans can take if the government infringes their religious liberty. And it contains exceptions for situations where a compelling government interest is at odds with religious liberty. Those are examples of the kind of information we plan to share with voters between now and November 8.”

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Read More About the Proposed Amendment Here

Updated: Lake Hamilton School Board Stops Opening Meetings With Prayer After Atheist Group Complains

Updated at 4:39 PM on April 1, 2022:

Based on articles in The Sentinel Record and The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette as well as conversations with individuals in Garland County, it seems that the Lake Hamilton School Board members have continued to pray before their meetings, but prayer is not part of the board’s official agenda.

Below is our original article from March 28.

Earlier this month the Freedom From Religion Foundation reported it had successfully stopped the Lake Hamilton School District in Garland County from opening school board meetings with prayer.

In an article dated March 2, the atheist organization wrote,

A concerned parent from Lake Hamilton School District in Arkansas contacted FFRF regarding prayer at school board meetings; a subsequent review of board meeting minutes confirmed that board meetings were consistently opened with prayer.

Board members are free to pray privately or to worship on their own time in their own way, Heineman wrote to the legal counsel for the school board a few weeks ago. However, by praying at official meetings, the school board lends its power and prestige to religion, amounting to a governmental endorsement. And, FFRF pointed out, prayer also alienates nonreligious Americans who make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population by religious identification — 35 percent of Americans are non-Christians, including more than one in four Americans who identify as religiously unaffiliated.

The board has quickly responded to FFRF’s missive. Counsel for the board replied that “prayer has been removed from the standard agenda.”

Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Freedom From Religion Foundation has bullied a school district in Arkansas.

In March of 2017 the organization threatened to sue the Harrison School Board for opening board meetings with prayer. School board members voted unanimously to keep praying despite the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s threat.

In December of 2019 Pea Ridge Public Schools suspended public prayer at school board meetings and ballgames following a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

More generally, in 2013 the group threatened legal action against Conway public schools who were letting local youth ministers visit members of their youth groups during lunch at school, and the foundation has complained repeatedly about the fact that Arkansas law lets public schools offer academic courses on the Bible.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation also is one of the groups suing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Arkansas Capitol lawn.

As we have said before, the U.S. Supreme Court and lower federal courts have ruled time and time again that it is constitutional for public meetings to begin with prayer.

It’s worth noting that across the board, groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation tend to threaten lawsuits. If people stand their ground, these organizations rarely follow through by filing lawsuits.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.