American Family Association: As Arkansas Reconsiders, State Religious Freedom Acts More Important Than Ever
TUPELO, Miss.—After the state of Indiana faced intense backlash this week regarding its newly passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Arkansas has been thrown into a debate too, as a heated controversy is erupting there over a similar proposed measure.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas House passed HB 1228 and sent it to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who had previously said he planned to sign the bill. But yesterday, Hutchinson called for changes in the bill’s language before it gets his signature, perhaps fearing a repeat of Indiana’s troubles with its law.
According to the Associated Press, Hutchinson said he wants the Legislature to either recall the bill from his desk or pass a follow-up measure that would make the proposal more closely mirror a 1993 federal religious freedom law that was signed by President Bill Clinton.
American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) says that such forceful resistance is the very reason Indiana, Arkansas and other states must pass religious freedom restoration laws to protect their residents.
“Christians and religious freedom defenders continue to beat the same drum, but the message remains—every American should be free to live and work according to their faith and conscience without fear of punishment by the government,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “This deep-seated opposition to religious freedom is extremely telling evidence of why laws that protect Americans’ faith convictions are so crucial.”
The AP also reported that the bill “prohibits state and local government from infringing upon someone’s religious beliefs without a compelling interest.” Similar measures have been proposed in more than a dozen other states, and 19 additional states have religious freedom restoration laws on their books.
Earlier this week, AFA sent an Action Alert to its one million-plus friends and supporters, calling on concerned Americans to contact Gov. Hutchinson to encourage him to sign the measure.
AFA has often shared with its one million-plus friends and supporters about case after case of Americans who were forced into making business decisions that were not in line with their faith and religious convictions, such as bakers, florists and photographers who were pressured into providing services for same-sex weddings, even though their convictions dictated otherwise. Some of these cases include:
- Washington: Florist Barronelle Stutzman was fined by the state for not providing flowers for a same-sex wedding. Now her home and personal savings are at risk.
- New Mexico: Photographer Elaine Huguenin was ordered by the state to give a lesbian $7,000 for declining to take pictures at a lesbian wedding.
- Oregon: Aaron and Melissa Klein of Sweet Cakes by Melissa were fined $150,000 by the state for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding based on their religious objections.
- Kentucky: Blaine Adamson was ordered by the city of Lexington to undergo sensitivity training for declining to print T-shirts for a gay pride festival.