Many are unaware that when the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was introduced to the House of Delegates in 2012, it passed with only two ‘no’ votes. It was then referred to a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee. I testified in support of the RFRA on behalf of CHEWV, while the ACLU of West Virginia spoke against it. Two of the three senators present concluded that the bill needed further study and it died there.
Without the protection of the RFRA, HSLDA explains, “the state can override a citizen’s right to freely exercise their religious beliefs by simply proving that its regulation is ‘reasonable.’ Since nearly all state regulations can be determined to be ‘reasonable,’ religious freedom is exceedingly limited.”
After the RFRA passed the WV House of Delegates, HSLDA reported, “Opponents are now calling with outlandish ideas, claiming this legislation will harm children and sanction discrimination. RFRA has been passed in 20 states; this [discrimination] has not happened and would not happen.”
What folks were saying back then is what they said when Indiana recently tried to pass the RFRA. It would “sanction discrimination.”
The Heritage Foundation disagrees: “. . . Religious Freedom Restoration Act, like all similar laws, doesn’t determine the outcome of a particular case. It simply provides a way for citizens to go into court to have their individual case reviewed by a court.”
Speaking in support of the RFRA, the late Sen. Kennedy said, “[RFRA] creates no new rights for any religious practice or for any potential litigant.”
Many have taken a stand against the RFRA – in business, in government, and in the press – who would prefer that those who choose to practice their religious beliefs not have a voice when those beliefs are limited, controlled, or even banned by state government. In other words, “Bake the cake, or else.” “Take the picture, or else.” So what is next? It could easily be, “TEACH what we say, or else.”
Where do your legislators stand on the RFRA? Are they afraid to stand against the crowd of bullies who shut down the Indiana law? Or are they going to choose to simply remain silent on the issue?
With the expectation of reintroducing the RFRA, I would like for you to be aware of a new film, “One Generation Away,” released earlier this year that might help your legislators decide where they stand on the RFRA. Please consider watching it and then sending it to them so they can learn more about this issue. Here is a link to the trailer: http://onegenerationawaymovie.com/
by John Carey, President
Heritage Communications of WV