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By BJC Staff Reports

After weeks of debates and revisions, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) into law April 3. The language of the bill uses some of the same language found in the 1993 federal RFRA, providing that state action shall not “substantially” burden a person’s right to exercise religion unless it is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling governmental interest.

Supporters and opponents of the new law disagree on its impact. While some see it as a protection for religious freedoms, others fear it could lead to state-sanctioned discrimination, particularly against the LGBT community.

The principle behind the bill is that religious practice based upon sincere religious belief should be protected from unnecessary government intrusions. In addition to the federal government, 18 other states have some version of a RFRA, and another dozen states interpret their state constitutions to provide similar protections.

Another section of the Mississippi RFRA bill adds “In God We Trust” to the state’s official seal.

From the April 2014 Report from the Capital. Click here for the next article.