Speaker Joe Straus Working to Kill Religious Liberty Bills

Jared Woodfill
Editor-in-Chief, CRTXNews.com
President, Conservative Republicans of Texas

There are at least twelve religious liberty bills filed this session, including bills that protect pastors from having to disclose their sermons (SB24), bills relating to issuing marriages licenses to homosexual couples when it goes against the person’s deeply held religious beliefs (SB522) , a bill dealing with discrimination against holders of occupational licenses who don’t want to be forced by the government to compromise their religious beliefs (SB651), and a bill related to rights of conscience for child welfare service providers (HB1805).  We are months into a legislative session that lasts only 140 days and most religious liberty bills have not been referred to a House Committee or had a hearing.

Free to Believe Act (HB 2779)

I want to bring your attention to the most powerful, protective, and broad religious liberty bill filed to date.  The bill was filed by Rep. Matt Schaefer, HB 2779, Free to Believe Act, which is similar to religious liberty legislation passed in Mississippi.  Rep. Schaefer’s bill was filed on March 2nd and has not yet been referred to a House committee.  The bill includes in  Sec.A110A.003, that “[t]he sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this chapter are a belief or conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; and (2) the terms “male,” “man,” “female,” and “woman” refer to an individual ’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at the time of birth.”

Broad Religious Liberty Protections Provided

The bill further provides broad protections for one’s religious beliefs, stating, “This chapter shall be construed in favor of a broad protection of the free exercise of religious beliefs and moral convictions to the maximum extent allowed by this chapter and the state and federal constitutions.”

Government May Not Discriminate Against Religious Organizations

The bill goes on to protect religious organizations, stating in Subchapter B, Sec.

110A.051, “A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against

a religious organization wholly or partly because the organization, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter: (1) makes an employment-related decision, including a decision to terminate, to discipline, or not to hire an individual whose conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with the beliefs of the religious organization; or (2) makes a decision concerning the sale, rental, or occupancy of, or the terms and conditions of occupying, a dwelling or other housing under the religious organization’s control.”

Foster Families and Couples Wanting to Adopt

The bill also provides protections for the religious liberties of foster parents and those wanting to adopt, stating, “ A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against a religious organization that advertises, provides, or facilitates adoption or foster care wholly or partly because the organization has provided or declined to provide an adoption or foster care service, or a related service, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter. (b) A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against a person granted custody of a foster or adoptive child or a person who seeks custody of a foster or adoptive child wholly or partly because that person guides, instructs, or raises a child, or intends to guide, instruct, or raise a child, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter”.

Sex Reassignment or Gender Identity Transitioning

The bill further addresses sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning, stating, “A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against a person wholly or partly because the person, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter, declines to participate in providing: (1) treatment, counseling, or surgery related to sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning; or (2) psychological, counseling, or fertility services. (b) This section may not be construed to allow a person to deny visitation, recognition of a designated representative for health care decision-making, or emergency medical treatment necessary to cure an illness or injury as required by law.

Protections for Bakers, Photographers,  Wedding Planners and Others

The bill goes on to protect bakers, photographers and others who choose not to participate in a same-sex ceremony that violates their deeply held religious beliefs, stating, “A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against a person wholly or partly because the person, based on or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction protected by this chapter, has provided or declined to provide the following for a purpose related to the solemnization, formation, celebration, or recognition of a marriage: (1) photography, poetry, videography, disc jockey services, wedding planning, printing, publishing, or similar marriage-related goods or services; or (2) floral arrangements, dressmaking, cake or pastry artistry, assembly hall or other wedding venue rentals, limousine or other car service rentals, jewelry sales and services, or similar marriage-related services, accommodations, facilities, goods, or privileges.  (d) A governmental entity may not take any discriminatory action against a person described by Subsection (a) wholly or partly because of the recusal”.

Joe, Let the People’s Representatives Vote!

It appears that House Speaker Joe Straus is employing the same strategy he has used for years to kill religious liberty and pro-life legislation, slow walk it to death or run out the clock!  We cannot allow one man to steal the right to vote from our elected representatives.  Joe Straus is not a king.  Joe, let the people’s representatives vote!

CRTXNEWS. All rights reserved www.crtxnews.com