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North Carolina

January 29, 2004

House Bill 403: Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Author:
Rep. J. Russell Capps (R-Wake County)

Summary:
This bill would enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in North Carolina. It would confirm religious freedom as a fundamental right and restore the compelling interest test to state action burdening the free exercise of religion.

Status:
03/10/2003 H Filed
03/11/2003 H Ref to the Committee on Ways and Means and, if favorable, to the Committee on Judiciary II
04/22/2003 H Reported Favorably
04/22/2003 H Re-referred to Committee On Judiciary II

Requested Action:

  1. Please call as many members of the committee below and give them this message:

    "Protect religious freedom in North Carolina! Please vote to support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, H.B. 403"

    (You do not need to identify yourself as a homeschooler for these calls).
    Representatives on Judiciary II Committee:
    Representative Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr., chairman, 919-715-3001
    Representative G. Wayne Goodwin, vice chair, 919-733-5823
    Representative Tim Moore, vice chair, 919-733-4838
    Representative Bonner, 919-733-5803
    Representative Bordsen, 919-733-5820
    Representative Farmer-Butterfield, 919-733-5898
    Representative Walend, 919-715-4466

    Below are the sponsors of H.B. 403 who sit on this committee. There is no need call them.
    Rep. Ellis
    Rep. Gulley
    Rep. Stam

  2. Also call your own state representative and give him the same message as above.

    The general number for the North Carolina General Assembly is 919-733-7928. To learn the name of your representative, use HSLDA's Legislative Toolbox at: http://www.hslda.org/toolbox. (If you do not have Internet access, call your county clerk's office and ask for your state representative's name).

HSLDA's Position:
This bill should be supported.

Background:
On June 25, 1997, by a 6 3 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in The City of Boerne v. Flores that the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) was unconstitutional. By doing this, the Court gave the lowest level of protection to religious liberty, one of the foundational freedoms of home schooling. Under this minimal standard, North Carolina can override a homeschooler or other citizen's right to freely exercise his religious beliefs merely by proving that its regulation is "reasonable." Since nearly all state regulations can be determined to be "reasonable," Christians will lose.

Since the devastating Boerne decision, state and federal courts across the country have diminished religious freedom in many ways. For example:

  • The long standing practice of pastor congregation confidentiality has been repeatedly violated;

  • A church sponsored hospital was denied accreditation for refusing to teach abortion techniques;

  • There have been conflicts with zoning ordinances, such as the forced termination of a church ministry to the homeless because it was located on the second floor of a building with no elevator; and

  • A church ministry was prohibited from feeding more than 50 people per day.

In response to the Court's crushing blow to religious freedom, a broad coalition of various North Carolina groups was formed to support the North Carolina RFRA. HSLDA is also working with a national coalition of religious groups to bring additional support for the passage of this bill. Passage of this act will raise the standard of protection for religious freedom in North Carolina for individuals, homeschool parents, churches, and all who desire to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

If passed, the North Carolina RFRA, will restore the high standard of protection for religious liberty previously guaranteed in the federal RFRA and earlier Supreme Court decisions. Under the North Carolina RFRA, if an individual's religious belief is in conflict with a state regulation, the state will have to prove, with evidence, that its regulation is essential to fulfilling the state's compelling interest and is the least restrictive way of doing so. If the state fails to carry the burden, the regulation must give way to the individual's religious freedom. Restoring this protection for religious freedom will simply "even the playing field."

 Other Resources

5/30/2003 - North Carolina--Religious Freedom at Stake: Your Calls Needed

3/26/2003 - North Carolina--Calls Needed on Religious Freedom Bill

Bill Text

Bill History