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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Religious Freedom Restoration Act Becomes Arkansas Law!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 2, 2015

On Thursday Family Council issued a statement applauding the Arkansas General Assembly and Governor Asa Hutchinson for passing Senate Bill 975, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “We still maintain House Bill 1228, the original religious freedom law passed by more than two-thirds of both the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate, was an excellent bill. However, Senate Bill 975 is also an excellent bill. As we keep saying, the original religious freedom bill, H.B. 1228, was the Rolls Royce of religious freedom laws, but S.B. 975, the replacement bill, is still a Cadillac.”

Cox said he appreciates the time and effort put into these bills by Arkansas’ legislators. “Being a lawmaker is not easy. I know many representatives and senators worked hard on these bills, particularly Representative Bob Ballinger and Senator Bart Hester. I believe Arkansans should be proud of their lawmakers for taking a stand for religious liberty and proud of Governor Hutchinson for signing a good bill into law.”

Cox said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will protect religious liberty in Arkansas. “This law simply guards the free exercise of religion from government infringement. If the government tries to force you to act against your deeply-held convictions, this law helps guarantee your day in court to defend yourself for obeying your religious beliefs. That’s something everyone ought to be able to support.”

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Official Press Release on Religious Freedom Bills

PRESS RELEASE: Family Council Supports Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 2, 2015

On Thursday Family Council announced support for Arkansas House Bill 1228 and Senate Bill 975, two bills called “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Family Council President Jerry Cox released a statement, saying, “We are still urging Governor Hutchinson to sign House Bill 1228, the original religious freedom law passed by more than two-thirds of both the Arkansas House and Arkansas Senate. If the Arkansas General Assembly passes Senate Bill 975, most of what we were trying to accomplish will have been done. The original religious freedom bill, H.B. 1228, was the Rolls Royce of religious freedom laws. S.B. 975, the replacement bill, is a Cadillac.”

Cox said that while H.B. 1228 is more clearly written, both bills have similar effects supporting religious liberty. “House Bill 1228, which was sent to the Governor first, spells out its definitions and effects very clearly. Senate Bill 975 relies on court rulings for many of its definitions. But many of House Bill 1228’s definitions were taken from court rulings, so in the end, I think both bills will help protect religious liberty.”

Cox called the controversy surrounding the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts unfounded. “The federal government passed the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. At least twenty states have passed state laws to this effect since then. Many more protect religious liberty through court rulings. The sky hasn’t fallen in Kansas or Virginia because of their state religious freedom laws. It isn’t going to fall in Arkansas, either.”

Cox said a Religious Freedom Restoration Act is necessary to protect Arkansans of faith from government infringement. “These laws simply guarantee all Arkansans enjoy equal protection from the government infringing their free exercise of religion. If the government tries to force you to act against your deeply-held convictions, these laws help guarantee your day in court to defend yourself for obeying your religious beliefs. That’s something all Americans ought to be able to support.”

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