Arkansas Legislature Passes Religious Freedom Restoration Legislation

by William Teach | April 1, 2015 7:01 am

This had made liberals very upset, because institutionalized, government approved bigotry against religions (well, any religion but Islam) is a Good Thing in their world

(NY Times[1]) The Arkansas legislature on Tuesday passed its version of a bill described by proponents as a religious freedom law, even as Indiana’s political leaders struggled to gain control over a growing backlash that has led to calls to boycott the state because of criticism that its law could be a vehicle for discrimination against gay couples.

The Arkansas bill now goes to the state’s Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, who expressed reservations about an earlier version but more recently said he would sign the measure if it “reaches my desk in similar form as to what has been passed in 20 other states.” But the bill already faces a significant corporate backlash, including from Doug McMillon, the chief executive of Walmart, the state’s largest corporation, who said Tuesday afternoon that Mr. Hutchinson should veto it.

Here’s where it gets funny

But the political context has changed widely since then. The law was spurred by an effort to protect Native Americans in danger of losing their jobs because of religious ceremonies that involved an illegal drug, peyote. Now the backdrop is often perceived to be the cultural division over same-sex marriage.

So, when it was protecting people using peyote in religious ceremonies, it was cool. Now, when it would protect those who are threatened by gay activists, who could easily go to another business for their wedding cakes and flowers and photos, it’s not cool. It’s always something with liberals.

Both states’ laws allow for larger corporations, if they are substantially owned by members with strong religious convictions, to claim that a ruling or mandate violates their religious faith, something reserved for individuals or family businesses in other versions of the law. Both allow religious parties to go to court to head off a “likely” state action that they fear will impinge on their beliefs, even if it has not yet happened.

The Arkansas act contains another difference in wording, several legal experts said, that could make it harder for the government to override a claim of religious exemption. The state, according to the Arkansas bill, must show that a law or requirement that someone is challenging is “essential” to the furtherance of a compelling governmental interest, a word that is absent from the federal law and those in other states, including Indiana.

This is apparently some sort of “too broad application” or something. You know what’s really broad?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….

Meanwhile, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is continuing his hissy fit[2]

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) on Tuesday described Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) as a “bigot” and said that politicians have a responsibility to speak out against Indiana’s divisive religious freedom law[3].

Pence is “not a stupid man, but he’s done stupid things,” Malloy said during an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “And signing this law — and quite frankly promoting this law, knowing exactly what it was going to do — was an incredibly stupid thing for him to do.”

“When you see a bigot, you have to call them on it,” he said.

Which is an interesting position. Four UConn coaches won’t attend the Final Four in Indiana, where college basketball coaches have meetings

(CBS Sports[4]) Ollie and Co. have opted out — and basically been forced to, because UConn is a state-backed institution and so the university is now prohibited from sending its employees to Indiana for business-related purposes. A travel This ban was put into effect on Monday by Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy[5]. The ban prevents any state-funded business to be paid for, via flights or other transit, into Indiana.

Has Malloy read his own states’ Constitution[6]? “The exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be free to all persons in the state; provided, that the right hereby declared and established, shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or to justify practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of the state.” Has he read the federal Constitution? He is using his power as Governor to discriminate and violate both.


That’s right. In case you missed it, Connecticut has a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, along with 19 other states. Twelve states have RFRA legislation pending, including Arkansas.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove[7]. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach[8].

  1. NY Times:
  2. continuing his hissy fit:
  3. Indiana’s divisive religious freedom law:
  4. CBS Sports:
  5. ban was put into effect on Monday by Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy:
  6. Constitution:
  7. Pirate’s Cove:
  8. @WilliamTeach:

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