Jerry's Blog

The Inside Scoop on Arkansas’ New Religious Freedom Law

IMG_6796Many people still do not fully understand Act 975, Arkansas’ new Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

What does this law do? Is it different from H.B. 1228, the first religious freedom bill the Arkansas Legislature sent to Governor Hutchinson? Why is this law even necessary?

We have the inside scoop.

Attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom have prepared an excellent analysis of Act 975. They compare it with H.B. 1228 and Indiana’s religious freedom law.

You can download ADF’s excellent analysis of the law here.

Here is our analysis of Act 975:

The Inside Scoop on Arkansas’ New Religious Freedom Law

Summary: Act 975 of 2015, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), is a very strong law protecting religious liberty. It includes the same legal balancing test that is in federal RFRA, the RFRAs of 20 other states, and U.S. Supreme Court case-law dating back nearly a century. This law will protect the religious freedom of Arkansans in the same way that the other RFRAs have protected the rights of other Americans. It will protect the right of all Arkansans to live and work according to their faith by ensuring that they have a claim or defense to raise in court if the government tries to force them to violate their faith. (more…)

Is the Free Exercise of Religion Becoming an Intellectual Exercise?

Recently the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 975, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Many other states have established similar laws over the past two decades. Simply put, these laws say the state government cannot burden the free exercise of religion unless doing so furthers a compelling governmental interest—such as protecting children or public safety, and so forth.

Over the years, I have heard opponents of these laws comment that religion does not seem to be suffering in Arkansas. Some people have asked me how much more religious freedom we need—after all, there’s a church on almost every street corner in many of our communities.

These comments hint at an underlying assumption: Religion is something a person does for an hour or two every week. It’s a belief and a church service—an intellectual exercise, and nothing more.

That’s a shortsighted assumption.

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Lottery Gives Less than 19% to Scholarships Second Month in a Row

For the second month in a row this year, the Arkansas Lottery allocated less than 19% of gross revenue for scholarships. This comes as the Arkansas Lottery transitions from the purview of the Arkansas Lottery Commission to the Department of Finance and Administration.

Below is a breakdown of lottery revenue for Fiscal Year 2015:

Month Gross Lottery Revenue Paid to Scholarships % Gross Revenue
July $30,925,067.43 $5,928,447.99 19.2%
August 31,571,412.10 5,296,965.80 16.8%
September 30,710,493.31 4,317,227.10 14.1%
October 32,959,739.29 5,939,625.59 18.0%
November 30,617,278.28 5,577,035.16 18.2%
December 34,507,731.54 5,474,318.77 15.9%
January, 2015 35,433,619.67 7,287,773.28 20.6%
February 41,770,314.46 6,161,343.01 14.8%
March 37,367,453.25 6,898,524.35 18.5%
Total $305,863,109.33 $52,881,261.05 17.3%