Members of the House of Representatives in Kansas and Kentucky have passed bills protecting religious freedom in the state.
The Kansas Preservation of Religious Liberty Act passed the House overwhelmingly last week, a move that will further protect the rights of conscience and the free exercise of religion.
“Government shall not substantially burden a person’s civil right to exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless such government demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence that application of the burden to the person: (1) Is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest,” the bill outlines.
The bill had cleared the House last year, but failed to clear the Senate. Therefore, some Christian and pro-family groups are taking things as a “wait and see” matter at this time.
“We’re in the same place we were last year,” Robert Noland, the executive director of Kansas Family Policy Council (KFPC), told CitizenLink. “This year the Senate is more conservative. We’re hopeful that when it comes up, the Senate will pass it this time.”
Likewise, in Kentucky, Representatives also passed a bill that seeks to ensure that the government does not burden the free exercise of religion. The bill is stated to serve three goals: “that government shall not burden a person’s or religious organization’s freedom of religion; [to] protect the right to act or refuse to act on religious grounds; specify that government shall prove by clear and convincing evidence prove a compelling governmental interest in establishing a burden on the freedom of religion; specify what constitutes a burden.”
Democratic Representative Bob Damron, who proposed the bill, told House members that the bill would bring clarity to the issue of individual religious rights.
Christians in both Kansas and Kentucky state that the bills are necessary because of the increasing attacks on religious liberty across the nation, such as the punishment of Christian business owners who decline to assist with homosexual events and ceremonies because it violates their faith. Noland also pointed to Obamacare’s abortion pill mandate, which is being challenged by businesses across the country.
“With the recently proposed mandates for health care and other controversial proposals impacting religious organizations and individual religious liberties at all levels of government, the protections in [the Kansas bill] add an important safeguard,” he said.
Sixteen states currently have similar laws on the books, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
The bills are based on a similar federal law passed in 1993, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They will now head to the Senate for further consideration.