West Virginia, U.S, is home to a large number of Christians, with about 77% of its population practicing Christianity. Lately, the Christian population has felt a need for legislation that would grant them religious freedom. House Majority Whip, John O’Neal recently said, “In our state and in many others right now, unfortunately, a person can go to church on Sunday and worship, and on Monday they can go to work and lose their business because of who they love, if the person they love happens to be the Lord.”
According to details, thirty-one states of U.S have RFRA’s on the books either as a result of the legislature passing RFRA’s (21) or through state court action (10). In over 20 years there has never been a reported case of a RFRA causing discrimination or being deemed unconstitutional. On the other hand, it has allowed people of faith to be heard.
Based on the first amendment to the U.S constitution that states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, the West Virginia Religious Freedom Restoration Act is designed to protect religious freedom from government infringement by providing a sensible balancing test to weigh two very important interests: religious liberty and the rule of law. RFRA ensures that every American – regardless of belief system or political power – receives a fair hearing when government action seeks to force that person to violate his or her religious beliefs.
The Act, if passed, will not allow the government to burden the free exercise of religion of any citizen or organization unless the government has the compelling interest to do so.
Talking about the subject, Tim Armstead, Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates said, “West Virginians take their religious liberties and their religious rights very seriously, and they want to see us ensure that those are protected.”
He further went on to say, “We just want to make sure that we set up a process in West Virginia where those who feel their rights have been infringed upon that they have a remedy”
Lawmakers expect resistance to the passing of this Act and are planning a rally in support of the Act on January 28, 2016.