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July 14, 2003

Senate Bill 12: Religious Freedom Act

Senator Kinder

This act requires that the compelling state interest test be imposed on all government laws and ordinances that might infringe upon one's exercise of religion.

12/01/02 Prefiled
01/08/03 S First Read S33
01/13/03 Second Read and Referred S Pensions & General Laws
01/28/03 Hearing Conducted S Pensions & General Laws Committee
04/17/03 S Third Read and Passed S877
04/18/03 H First Read H1133
04/21/03 H Second Read H1140
04/22/03 Referred H Judiciary Committee H1161
04/30/03 Hearing Conducted H Judiciary Committee
05/07/03 HCS Voted Do Pass H Judiciary Committee
05/14/03 H Third Read and Passed /S1535
05/14/03 S refuses to concur in HCS S1592
05/14/03 S requests H recede or grant conference S1592
05/15/03 H refuses to recede & requests S Take up & Pass Bill
05/15/03 S concurs in HCS
05/15/03 S Third Read and Passed
05/21/03 Signed by Senate President
05/21/03 Signed by House Speaker
05/21/03 Delivered to Governor
07/09/03 Signed by Governor

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA supports this bill.

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 home schooling. Under this minimal standard, the State of Missouri can override a home schooler 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 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.

In response to the Court's crushing blow to religious freedom, a broad coalition of various Missouri groups was formed to support the Missouri RFRA. HSLDA is also working with a national coalition of religious groups to bring additional support for the passage of this bill. Passage of this act will raise the standard of protection for religious freedom in Missouri for individuals, homeschool parents, churches, and all who desire to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

If passed, the Missouri RFRA, will restore the high standard of protection for religious liberty previously guaranteed in the federal RFRA and earlier Supreme Court decisions. Under the Missouri 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. 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."

 Other Resources

7/15/2003 - Missouri--Religious Freedom Bill Signed by Governor

5/29/2003 - Missouri--Legislature Passes Religious Freedom Restoration Act

2/27/2003 - Missouri--Religious Freedom Bill Needs Your Help

Bill Text

Bill History