Mississippi protects religious freedom; no explosions (so far)

Mississippi protects religious freedom; no explosions (so far)

Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act in a private ceremony on Thursday. The bill is intended to protect business owners’ religious rights not to provide services that violate their beliefs.

Seen as a response to recent lawsuits that have required business owners to bake a cake for or photograph same-sex weddings, the bill managed to escape the controversy that killed a similar bill in Arizona last month. …

[S]upporters of the Mississippi law reject comparisons to the controversial Arizona bill, which was vetoed by the state’s governor, Jan Brewer. In fact, backers say, while an early version included broad language similar to that of the Arizona bill, the final language is narrower and resembles the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Both the federal bill and Mississippi bill, as Reason’s Scott Shackford notes, require the government to prove a compelling interest to force business owners to go against their beliefs and don’t allow them to use religion as justification for any form of discrimination.

The Mississippi Economic Council noted that there were revisions of the bill to address concerns that it was too much like Arizona’s broader legislation. The MEC originally opposed the bill but approved of the final version because it mostly resembled federal legislation.

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