Religious Liberty Bill Advanced by Iowa Senate Panel, Opponents Claim Law Would Hurt Economy

DES MOINES, Iowa — An Iowa Senate panel has advanced a bill that seeks to protect the religious liberty of its residents, while opponents claim that if the proposal becomes law, it could hurt the state economy.

According to the Des Moines Register, Senate Study Bill 3171, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), might soon move to the full Senate for consideration.

Its purpose is to mirror state law with the federal RFRA, which prohibits the government from burdening the free exercise of religion without a compelling interest—and even then, using the least restrictive means possible. The legal standard, known as strict scrutiny, is used by courts nationwide, including in cases not associated with religion.

“Government shall not subsequently burden a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person’s exercise of religion is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest,” the bill reads.

“A person whose exercise of religion has been burdened in violation of this [law] may assert such violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and obtain appropriate relief,” the legislation also outlines.

Read the bill in full here.

Both supporters and opponents of the bill appeared before the Senate Local Government Committee as it deliberated the proposal on Feb. 12. The first to speak favorably about the measure were Dick and Betty Odgaard, who formerly owned the Gortz Haus Gallery—that is, until they decided to close it down after being leveled with a discrimination lawsuit for declining to allow a same-sex ceremony on the premises.

  • Connect with Christian News

The couple also received a number of hateful messages from those who were intolerant of the Odgaard’s Christian faith.

“You are mean, rude, selfish, [expletive] racist sons of [expletive] from Hell,” one message stated. “[Expletive] your God. [Expletive] your religion.”

“Betty, you’re very old and almost dead,” another email read. “How do you both feel knowing that America and the world will be a better place without you?”

“They painted us with a very ugly brush,” Betty Odgaard told the panel, advising that perhaps their business might not have closed if the law had been in place at the time. “We loved these people. We meant no ill will. We received death threats. Their main aim was to shut us down.”

Conversely, the Principal Financial Group, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and the Iowa Chamber Alliance said that if the bill passes, it could result in economic ramifications, such as the potential cancellation of the 2019 NCAA regional men’s basketball tournament. They additionally asserted that businesses might have difficulty attracting new employees.

“There are severe negative implications going down this road for businesses,” John Stineman, executive director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance, stated, according to the Des Moines Register.

“As we’ve seen in other states, similar legislation has had a negative impact with respect to business development, recruiting a talented workforce, and attracting important conferences and conventions,” the coalition also said in a statement to KCRG-TV.

In Acts 5, the Scriptures outline that when the Apostle Peter and others were told not to preach in the name of Jesus, they replied, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Romans 13 also explains that government leaders are to serve as “the minister of God,” doing Christ’s will in the world for good, and acting as a “revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

Become a Christian News Network Supporter...

Dear Reader, has been of benefit and a blessing to you? For many years now, the Lord has seen fit to use this small news outlet as a strong influential resource in keeping Christians informed on current events from a Biblical worldview. Striving to bring you the news without compromise and with Christ in focus, we press on despite recent changes in Facebook and Google's algorithms, which has limited our readership, and, as a result, has affected operational site revenue. If you have benefited from our news coverage, please prayerfully consider becoming a Christian News Network supporter by clicking here to make a one-time or monthly donation to help keep the truth widely and freely published and distributed. May Christ continue to be exalted through this work! Would you join us by making a donation today to this important work? >>

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Nidalap

    Isn’t it kind of common for there to be a possible financial risk associated with doing the right thing? 🙂

    • Robin Egg

      Better than burning in hell isn’t it….:)

      • Nidalap

        Tru-dat! 🙂

  • james blue

    A self employed person should be able to do or refuse to do business with whomever they wish for whatever reason they wish. A self employed Christian photographer should be able to refuse to do gay weddings, However it cannot be a one way street. A non Christian should be able to refuse goods, services, employment etc to Christians.

    On the other hand if a christian photographer is employed by a company that does cater gay weddings, he should do the gig or seek employment elsewhere. Employers should not be forced by law to make accommodations for our faith. It’s nice that employers do make accommodations, but they should be forced to by law.

    It is up to us to make the sacrifices in life in order to live by our faith, not have others make accommodations for us. If this means certain jobs are not suited to us, so be it.

    • Amos Moses – He>i

      again preaching the Gospel of St. COMPROMISE from the tent pitched toward Sodom …… the Gospel of COMPROMISE of the word of God is what we all need to hear and obey …… we must ALL BOW to the dictates of men trying to destroy christianity and we should REPENT of our not surrendering to this world as St. COMPROMISE has said ……. thank you prophet from SODOM ………….. Jimmy Azul ……….

      • james blue

        you having a fit skippy?

        • Amos Moses – He>i

          oh hi St. COMPROMISE …… deigning to give some more of your gospel …… do you have a podcast from the tent pitched toward Sodom ………

    • Regeanvoter

      What you have done is simply define the Constitutional standard of equality. Neither side in a religious debate has the right to force their views, or trade on the other. However, in the long run, it is the Christian who will profit in eternity.

      • james blue

        Actually I was defining what freedom and liberty ought to be.

  • Robert Smith

    My wife and I have left Churches and ministries because they wanted to send all our donations to the far reaches of the world when men women and children lived in cardboard boxes within sight of their largess.

    • bowie1

      Where I attend donations are sent to a variety of causes, local, national and international. We can’t help all but we can help some and there are quite a few local causes on the list.

  • Robert Smith

    501(c)(3)Holds a threat over churches and in the long run dictates religious absolutes, watering down and rendering them palatable for the masses.

  • Michael C

    “Its purpose is to mirror state law with the federal RFRA, which prohibits the government from burdening the free exercise of religion without a compelling interest…”

    “The first to speak favorably about the measure were Dick and Betty Odgaard, who formerly owned the Gortz Haus Gallery—that is, until they decided to close it down after being leveled with a discrimination lawsuit for declining to allow a same-sex ceremony on the premises.”

    Question time;

    If the state RFRA mirrors the federal RFRA and the federal RFRA doesn’t allow the Odgaards to refuse service to gay people, why do they think this state RFRA would be any different?

    If the Odgaards wish to discriminate against gay people when they feel like it, they should be petitioning the state government to remove the characteristic of sexual orientation from the list of protected classes in Iowa civil rights laws. This would make it legal for businesses to deny employment, housing, and service at stores, restaurants, and other public accommodations on the basis of a customer’s sexual orientation whenever they feel like it.

  • Stinger

    Freeing slaves also hurt the economy.

    Money isn’t everything.

  • Regeanvoter

    Sad that such a bill had to be written, but it holds up under the Constitutional test as it affirms and does not violate either the establishment or the free expression clauses in the First Amendment.

  • Hurt the economy?……WOW……because nothing helps the economy more than a bunch of perverts being allowed to ruin someone’s life and/or livelihood by forcing them out of business and into bankruptcy.