Religion 'protection' bill filed | Arkansas Blog

Monday, February 2, 2015

Religion 'protection' bill filed

Posted By on Mon, Feb 2, 2015 at 3:21 PM

Rep. Bob Ballinger and a host of other like-minded legislators today filed an act nominally intended to protect religious freedom. They call it the Conscience Protection Act.

What it's meant to protect is people who claim a religious reason for discrimination against others. The core:

Religious freedom preserved. A state action shall not burden a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence that applying the burden to the person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance:

(1) Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and 

(2) Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest. 

The bill allows lawsuits by those offended.

This is a can of worms. Conscience clauses particularly become troublesome in health care practices — a pharmacist who refuses to dispense a birth control pill, for example; or a hospital that refuses to perform a life-saving abortion. I can see the law invoked in discrimination against gay people on religious grounds. And many, many more.


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