New Religious Freedom Restoration Act in Missouri

December 9, 2002

Source: The Daily Statesman

On December 9, 2002 The Daily Statesman reported that "legislation proposed this week by Senate President Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau, could strengthen Missourians' abilities to practice their faith. The bill was filed in advance of the 2003 legislative session that begins in January. It would require the state to have a compelling interest in regulating religious practices and institutions. Currently government has to show only a 'rational basis' or reasonable argument for their interest. The proposed bill has bipartisan support and the support of several denominations and faiths, including the Jewish Community Relations Council, the Interfaith Alliance of Greater St. Louis, Catholic Conference, Southern Baptist Convention, Presbyterian Church USA, United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church. The legislation is modeled after a federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 because it gave religion more protections than the Constitution allowed, the justices ruled. The Supreme Court ruling indicated that state-passed religious freedom legislation could be constitutional since states can offer more protections but not less than the federal government."