The True Facts About Religious Freedom Laws

By Sarah Torre, Heritage Foundation

The mainstream media has launched an all-out blitz over a new law that protects the fundamental freedom of Indiana citizens from unnecessary and unreasonable government coercion.

The media’s gross mischaracterizations of the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act ignore the truth: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts prevent government discrimination against religious free exercise and simply provide a way to balance religious liberty with compelling government interests.

Religious liberty isn’t an absolute right. Religious liberty doesn’t always trump. Religious liberty is balanced with concerns for a compelling state interest that’s being pursued in the least-restrictive means possible.

The First Amendment Partnership, an organization whose mission is “to promote and protect religious freedom for people of all faiths,” created the below infographic separating myth from fact on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts:

As Ryan T. Anderson and I explained Thursday, the Indiana law is good policy. Like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana’s new law prohibits substantial government burdens on religious exercise unless the government can show a compelling interest in burdening religious liberty and does so through the least restrictive means.

These protections for religious freedom provide a commonsense way to balance the fundamental right to religious liberty with compelling government interests.

By passing its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Indiana joins the 19 other states that have implemented such laws. Eleven additional states have religious liberty protections that state courts have interpreted to provide a similar level of protection. These commonsense laws place the onus on the government to justify its actions in burdening the free exercise of religion.

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