Ohio House of Representatives may soon vote on a bill that would place
religious beliefs and practices above the law — and we need your help to stop
rights to believe and worship as one wishes are, and always have been, strongly
protected in Ohio by both the Ohio Constitution and the United States Constitution. But a new proposal, Ohio House Bill 376, called the “Ohio Religious
Freedom Restoration Act,” uses deliberately vague and broad wording to allow
religious institutions and believers to avoid complying with general laws simply
by claiming it “burdens” their religion in some way.
376 proposes that “state action ... shall not burden a person’s right to
exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general
applicability” — unless the government can demonstrate it has a compelling
interest to do so and its means are the least restrictive available.
bill’s sponsors, Reps. Timothy Derickson (R-Oxford) and Bill Patmon
(D-Cleveland), claim the bill is needed to protect
the right to freedom of religion in Ohio. However, the Center for Inquiry (CFI)
believes this is nothing more than an attempt to privilege religion in the
example, under this bill:
CFI has always defended freedom of religion for
all, and will continue to do so. But this bill does not aim to protect this
freedom; it aims to place religion on a
pedestal, where it can be used as an excuse to disobey laws that everyone else
must follow. Current law already protects religious belief and expression. This
law seeks to go beyond protection, and grant religious belief special rights, which
will infringe on the rights of others. As a result, the equal rights of all
Ohio citizens, religious and secular, would be put at risk.
This proposal is
not just unnecessary — it’s dangerous. We urge you to contact your state representative now and tell them to oppose this measure!
Stop Efforts to Privilege Religion!
Dear [Decision Maker],
As a friend of the Center for Inquiry's community in Northeast Ohio, I urge you to oppose Ohio House Bill 376, also known as the "Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act."
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
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