Another State Expands Religious Freedom
Update (May 23): The Arizona state senate has approved a state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will "would allow people to sue over potential violations of religious freedom," according to the Associated Press.
Among other provisions, according to Religion Clause, "The bill allows a person whose religious exercise 'is likely to be burdened' to sue because of the impending violation, without waiting for the infringement to actually occur."
Kansas governor Sam Brownback has signed a new law that will codify existing federal protections in state courts, offering Kansas residents protection "from government infringement on religious liberties."
The Associated Press reports that lawmakers modeled Kansas House Bill 2203–known as the Religious Freedom Preservation Act–after the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which originally provided federal religious freedom protections in state courts. Although the U.S. Supreme Court struck down RFRA's ability to mandate actions by state courts, states are allowed to codify "the same strict legal protections for religious liberty that currently exist in the federal judicial system."
The state-level RFRA protections will take effect in Kansas on July 1.
Kansas is just the latest of a string of states to recently debate religious liberty bills. Mississippi lawmakers approved a bill guaranteeing students' religious rights in March, several months after Missouri began allowing students to opt out of homework assignments on religious grounds. Most recently, Kentucky lawmakers went back and forth with Gov. Steve Beshear over a bill that prevented the government from "substantially burdening" citizens' rights to "act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief." Beshear vetoed the bill, but lawmakers later voted to override the veto.
The issue of religious freedom is near and dear to the hearts of many Christians. CT reported in January that most Americans report being concerned about religious liberty; however, they disagree over how to apply it.