Religious Liberty Bill Clears Senate Committee10 Mar

ACTION: Call 1 800 372 7181 and ask your State Senator to support Senate Bill 158 when it comes to the floor for a vote. Click here to send an email message to your State Senator.

In Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the U. S. bishops write the following:

Civil law should fully recognize and protect the Church’s right, obligation, and opportunities to participate in society without being forced to abandon or ignore its central moral convictions. Our nation’s tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religious groups and people of faith bring their convictions and concerns into public life. Indeed, our Church’s teaching is in accord with the foundational values that have shaped our nation’s history: “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. (FCFC, n. 11)

Senator Jimmy Higdon

A bi-partisan group of Senators led by Senator Jimmy Higdon has sponsored SB 158 to strengthen Kentucky’s Constitution and ensure the believer’s right to practice his or her religion.

SB 158 (BR 1702) – J. Higdon, V. McGaha, J. Schickel, R. Webb
     AN ACT proposing to amend Section 5 of the Constitution of Kentucky relating to right of religious freedom.

Propose to amend Section 5 of the Kentucky Constitution to prohibit any human authority from burdening actions that are based on religious beliefs, except in support of a compelling governmental interest using the least restrictive means to further that interest; define “burden”; submit to voters for ratification or rejection.

SB 158 cleared a Senate Committee and is about to receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.

The Catholic Conference supports this legislation and wrote a letter to Senators on the Senate State and Local Government Committee, stating that

One particularly important aspect of SB 158 is its protection of religious institutions as well as individuals. One way the exercise of religion – religious liberty – takes concrete form is in institutions established by people of faith to help members of society. Whether it is education, health care, social charities, worship or another activity, each activity is an expression of faith. Each one has a unique quality flowing from that basis of faith. To deny that underpinning of faith is to change the very character of the institution and of the service it provides. It ignores the diverse ways through which faith is expressed. It forces people to act against their free, conscious decisions made in the light of faith.

The language of SB 158 reflects the language of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which has been an extremely important check on federal intrusion into areas of religious liberty. However, there is currently no such explicit protection in Kentucky law. Passage of SB 158, and its submission to the voters of Kentucky, would be an important step forward in the protection of religious liberty and respect for the right of conscience.

In its report on the committee meeting the Courier-Journal reported the following:

Higdon said SB 158, which passed 6-0, would have avoided situations in Western Kentucky in which several Amish men were charged and sent to jail because they wouldn’t put red and orange safety triangles on their buggies for religious reasons. Instead, Higdon said, the amendment would have allowed them use reflective tape that wouldn’t violate their religious beliefs.

ACTION: Call 1 800 372 7181 and ask your State Senator to support Senate Bill 158 when it comes to the floor for a vote. Click here to send an email message to your State Senator.

Photo: Kentucky Legislative Research Commission website

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One Response to “Religious Liberty Bill Clears Senate Committee”

  1. SB 158 Clears Senate with Bi-Partisan Vote: 34 – 4; “Amish Bill” Nearing Passage | Catholic Conference of Kentucky Reply

    [...] There will be an Action Alert published soon with an email message to send State Representatives. For more information about SB 158 see our earlier post. [...]

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