These 19 States Have Religious Freedom Laws Similar to Indiana's. Here’s What That Means.
by Kelsey Harkness
News: Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—or what critics call "pro-discrimination" laws—have been around for over two decades.
Gov. Mike Pence gained national attention when he signed the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law last week.
It caused the Twitter hashtag #BoycottIndiana to go viral and triggered Apple CEO Tim Cook to pen a Washington Post op-ed calling “pro-discrimination” laws “dangerous.”
Yet, despite the uproar, Indiana isn’t alone in enacting legislation that seeks to protect the religious freedom of its citizens.
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts—or what critics call “pro-discrimination” laws—have been around for over two decades.
Religious Freedom Restoration Acts first came about after the Supreme Court’s 1990 decision in Employment Division v. Smith, which “narrowed protections for the free exercise of religion.”
In response to the court’s ruling, Congress sought to restore religious freedom by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, popularly known as RFRA.
The legislation won unanimous support in the House, passed 97-3 in the Senate, and was signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton.
Since then, in addition to Indiana, 19 states have passed their own state-level Religious Freedom Restoration Acts: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Another 11 states have RFRA-like protections provided by state court decisions.