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Mississippi Passes Religious Freedom Restoration Bill

Yesterday, the Mississippi legislature passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. If the “controversial” measure (PDF) becomes law, residents may sue the state over actions that impinge on their religious freedom.

The so-called controversy of this bill and others like it focuses on whether such laws could result in discrimination against homosexuals. When it comes to serving a cup of coffee, probably not, but when it comes to homosexual “weddings,” they should, and rightly so. Christian business owners don’t leave their faith or conscience at home when they go to the office.

Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said the bill’s passage “is a victory for the First Amendment and the right to live and work according to one’s conscience. This commonsense measure was a no-brainer for freedom, and like the federal RFRA, it simply bars government discrimination against religious exercise. The legislature gave strong approval to a bill that declares that individuals do not have to trade their religious freedom for entrance into public commerce.”

In February, Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, vetoed a similar bill. In a letter (PDF) to the state Senate, Brewer said the bill didn’t “seek to address a specific and present concern related to Arizona businesses. The out-of-state examples cited by proponents of the bill, while concerning, are issues not currently existing in Arizona. Furthermore, the bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and negative consequences. The legislation seeks to protect businesses, yet the business community overwhelmingly opposes the law. Moreover, some legislatures that voted for the bill have reconsidered their votes and now do not want this legislation to become law.”

The First Amendment restricts Congress from prohibiting the free exercise of religious practice, and that exercise includes refusing to provide services for events that mock the individual’s faith and/or violates his conscience.

Photo credit: shawnzrossi (Creative Commons)

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