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Arkansas House passes bill protecting churches from discrimination during an emergency

Published On: 1/29/2021


The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Greg Chafuen regarding the Arkansas House’s passage Thursday of the Religion Is Essential Act, a bill sponsored by Rep. Mary Bentley that ensures churches and other religious organizations are allowed to remain open during a state of emergency on the same terms as businesses and other secular services:

“Houses of worship and religious organizations provide soul-sustaining operations that are essential to our society and protected by the First Amendment. While public officials have the authority and responsibility to protect public health and safety, the U.S. Supreme Court has made clear that the First Amendment ‘cannot be put away and forgotten’ even in a pandemic. This means that the government can’t treat churches worse than shopping centers, restaurants, or gyms without violating the Constitution. We commend the Arkansas House for making it clear that officials can’t use a public crisis to discriminate against religious operations while promoting secular ones, and we encourage the Senate to follow suit.”


Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.


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