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What RFRA Is Really About

One of the most volatile issues of 2015 has been the media uproar over efforts by several states to implement Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) laws. Some things to know:

  • In situations where a law forces someone to take an action that conflicts with his faith, RFRAs provide courts with a legal test for balancing the government’s interest in its own law with a person of faith’s determination not to violate his conscience.

  • A federal RFRA was signed into law in 1993, and 21 states have enacted similar laws since then. President Obama, while a member of the Illinois legislature, voted in favor of the RFRA bill that passed there in 1998.

  • Much of the current political animosity against RFRA is being stirred by advocates of same-sex marriage, who oppose the bills based on their potential to shield Christian business owners from government-enforced support for same-sex marriage.
“RFRA doesn’t pick winners and losers,” says ADF Senior Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. “It simply ensures that freedom gets a fair hearing in court when government intrudes on it. How can anyone be opposed to that?”

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