Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Our Views ; Does Religious Freedom Need to Be Restored?; Bill Protecting Religious Liberties a Solution in Search of a Problem

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Our Views ; Does Religious Freedom Need to Be Restored?; Bill Protecting Religious Liberties a Solution in Search of a Problem

Article excerpt

Lawmakers in the West Virginia House of Delegates spent Thursday and Friday last week listening to testimony and debating the aspects of House Bill 4012, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Proponents of the bill say it allows West Virginians to practice their religion in all aspects of their lives, including in their businesses, without government infringement.

But the legislation begs two questions: First, isnt the freedom to practice religion already protected by the First Amendment? Second, has as the name of the bill suggests the freedom to practice religion been so eviscerated that it must be restored?

The legislation stems from instances in other states where same- sex couples were refused services by owners of a small business who claimed offering those services for a same-sex wedding would violate their religious beliefs.

Every West Virginian should be free to live and work according to their faith, without fear of being punished by the government, said Delegate John ONeal, R-Raleigh.

No argument there. But the legislation has divided the religious community, with some saying they shouldnt have to compromise their beliefs and others saying religious texts teach love, mercy and grace. …

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