Commentary: Support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act pending in the Georgia Senate


Georgia Sen. Ed Setzler, R-Acworth, along with at least 25 other senators including senate leadership, introduced SB 180, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act today at the Capitol.  This bill provides people of faith the same protections from state and local government actions that they now have from federal government actions.

This legislation is very simple. It merely provides that the RFRA protections from federal law will also apply to religious liberty questions arising under Georgia law.

Enactment of SB 180 will bring Georgia into line with 34 other states that have taken action to restore a full level of legal protection for people of faith.  Under current Georgia law, the freedom of religion has a weak level of legal protection:

Under current federal RFRA law, a claim brought under the “free exercise” clause of the First Amendment is treated as a full constitutional right that must be analyzed using the “strict scrutiny” legal standard.  This legal standard simply means that the government may not substantially impact a citizen’s free exercise of their religious faith unless it demonstrates a truly “compelling interest” and that in doing so the government agency uses the “least restrictive means” to achieve its compelling interest.

The Hobby Lobby case, in which the US Supreme Court held that Christian business owners could not be required by the federal government to pay for their employees’ abortion-inducing drugs, was decided under the federal RFRA law.  Senator Setzer’s SB 180 would merely apply this same legal analysis to cases arising under state and local law in Georgia.

President Bill Clinton, who signed the federal RFRA law in 1993, put it this way: “But let us never believe that the freedom of religion imposes on any of us some responsibility to run from our convictions. Let us instead respect one another’s faiths, fight to the death to preserve the right of every American to practice whatever convictions he or she has but bring our values back to the table of American discourse to heal our troubled land.”

Thank you, Senator Setzler, for leading the way in guaranteeing that Georgians will have the same basic rights the federal RFRA provides to prisoners and soldiers on military bases.

Please begin praying intensely and contacting your state senator now to urge him or her to vote in favor of RFRA when it comes to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Find your senator’s contact info here.