States map 2015 for blog Written by Don Byrd

Today the Baptist Joint Committee issued a statement from Executive Director Brent Walker regarding controversial legislation recently passed in Indiana and Arkansas modeled after the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

From the statement:

The federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and state RFRAs are important to ensure heightened protection for religious liberty for all. State RFRAs should mirror the delicate balance achieved in the federal law. Both Indiana and Arkansas passed legislation that falls short of that goal in several ways, tilting the balance in favor of religious claimants and against the government’s ability to protect other compelling interests. RFRAs allow us to protect religious liberty with an eye to the well-being of society and rights of third parties, including civil rights of the LGBT community and others.

The promise of America is a both/and expectation. Not either/or. That is, both religious liberty for all and non-discrimination. Achieving this is absolutely essential and possible.

Read the whole thing.

Meanwhile, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson has indicated he will not sign the legislation in its current form, and is asking the legislature for changes. The LATimes reports:

“It has been my intention all along to have House Bill 1228 to mirror the federal act,” said Hutchinson, describing his state’s bill. “The bill that is on my desk at the present time does not … mirror the federal law.”

Stay tuned.