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This bill would enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
1. Please call or email as many members of the House Judiciary Committee as possible with this message or a similar message in your own words:
“Please vote for Senate Bill 1119 by Representative Ballinger and Senator Hester, which would restore and protect religious liberty for Arkansas citizens as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
Since this issue is much broader than homeschooling, it is not necessary for you to identify yourself as home educator.
Following is contact information for members of the House Judiciary Committee:
Wright, Marshall (D-49)—Chair
Vines, John T. (D-25))—Vice Chair
Baine, John (D-7))—Member
Ballinger, Bob (R-97))—Member
Broadaway, Mary (D-57))—Member
Fite, Charlene (R-80))—Member
Gillam, Jeremy (R-45))—Member
Hodges, Monte (D-55))—Member
Kizzia, David (D-26))—Member
Magie, Stephen (D-72))—Member
McElroy, Mark D. (D-11))—Member
Neal, Micah S. (R-89))—Member
Nickels, Jim (D-41))—Member
Scott, Sue (R-95))—Member
Shepherd, Matthew J. (R-6))—Member
Slinkard, Mary L. (R-92))—Member
Steel, Nate (D-19))—Member
Wagner, Wes (D-54))—Member
Walker, John W. (D-34))—Member
Williams, Darrin (D-36))—Member
2. Please forward this email to every family you know who is not a member of HSLDA and urge them to contact members of the committee.
Passed the Senate 34-1. Referred to committee in the House. See "Bill History" link below.
On June 25, 1997, by a 6-3 majority, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the City of Boerne v. Flores case, struck down the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). By doing this, the Court gave the lowest level of protection to religious liberty—one of the foundational freedoms of homeschooling.
Under this minimal standard, the State of Arkansas can now override a homeschooler’s 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,” individuals and churches will lose.
Since the devastating U.S. Supreme Court Boerne decision, state and federal courts across the country have diminished religious freedom in many ways. For example:
- The long-standing practice of pastor-laity confidentiality has been repeatedly violated;
- A Catholic 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 was prohibited from feeding more than 50 people per day.
Passage of SB 1119 will raise the standard of protection for religious freedom in Arkansas for individuals, homeschool parents, churches, and all who desire to freely exercise their religious beliefs.
If passed, the Arkansas RFRA will restore the high standard of protection for religious liberty previously guaranteed in the federal RFRA and earlier Supreme Court decisions. Under the Arkansas 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 fulfill the state’s compelling interest and is the least restrictive means of doing so. If the state fails to carry the burden, the regulation must give way to the individual’s religious freedom.
Don’t let one decision by the U.S. Supreme Court denigrate this priceless inalienable right. Urge members of the House Judiciary Committee now to restore protection for religious liberty in Arkansas by supporting SB 1119.
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