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2/7/2007 3:39:42 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Virginia--Victory in the Legislature for Religious Freedom

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Virginia--Victory in the Legislature for Religious Freedom

Dear HSLDA members and friends:

Thank you for your calls to your delegate. Incredibly, the Religious
Freedom Act passed 67-30, with three delegates not voting.

This is a tremendous result after trying to get the Religious Freedom
Act passed for the previous three years and never getting it out of
committee. The Religious Freedom Act will provide protection for
people of faith in every area when their religious convictions
conflict with the state's regulations. We are using it to protect
homeschoolers in Pennsylvania and Florida.

We hope that with your help, the Religious Freedom Act will pass the
Senate and Virginia will be on its way to protecting religious
freedom--just like the other 13 states that have already passed the
Religious Freedom Act. To this end, we are planning to testify before
the Senate committee.

ACTION

As this bill is now in the Senate, we urge you to contact your senator
and ask him or her to support the Religious Freedom Act. You can reach
your senator via the capitol switchboard at (804) 698-7410 or (804)
698-1470. Or you can use our legislative toolbox at
http://www.hslda.org/toolbox to find your senator's contact
information.

You can give them this message:

"Please vote in favor of House Bill 3082, the Religious Freedom Act.
This bill will protect one of the most important freedoms in the state
of Virginia--religious freedom."

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 homeschooling. Under this minimal standard,
the State can 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," Christians 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 H.B. 3082 will raise the standard of protection for
religious freedom in Virginia for individuals, homeschool parents,
churches, and all who desire to freely exercise their religious
beliefs.

If passed, the Virginia RFRA will restore the high standard of
protection for religious liberty previously guaranteed in the federal
RFRA and earlier Supreme Court decisions. Under the Virginia 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 a compelling state 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. Restoring this protection for religious freedom will simply
"even the playing field."

In a somewhat ironic twist, Congress passed a law giving this higher
level of protection--but only to prisoners! Prisoners now have
greater protection for their religious liberty than you do. This must
be changed.

For more detailed information on Religious Freedom Restoration Acts,
visit our website at: http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3691 .

Don't let one decision by the U.S. Supreme Court denigrate this
priceless inalienable right. Urge your state senator now to restore
protection for religious liberty in Virginia by supporting the
Virginia RFRA!

Thanks again for your calls!

Sincerely Yours,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

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