cross and cloudsWritten by Don Byrd

Texas law currently includes robust religious freedom protections in the form of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). (See the Baptist Joint Committee’s resource page on RFRA here). Efforts are under way, however, to expand that law in ways that could undo RFRA’s careful balance. Specifically, Senate Joint Resolution 10 and House Joint Resolution 55 would add RFRA language to the Texas Constitution, while changing it in at least one important way:

Ken Camp reports for Baptist News Global:

Both measures have one thing in common: They lower the threshold from “substantially burden” to “burden.” And the distinction between “burden” and “substantially burden” means the difference between an inconvenience that invites litigation and a significant infringement on free exercise of faith, a Texas Baptist attorney and public policy expert said.

Kathryn Freeman, public policy director for the Christian Life Commission, supports adding RFRA to the constitution, but argues smartly in Camp’s piece that the language should not be changed, and she it right. RFRA strikes an essential balance between religious liberty and the interests of the state. As such it was broadly supported across party lines.

Changing the language of the law as proposed here would weaken the law and its base of support. That is both bad policy and bad politics.