Senate approves religious freedom bill
Mike Seals - April 20, 2021 10:19 pm
OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure passed through the Senate Tuesday to better protect the religious freedoms of Oklahomans. Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, carried the bill in the Senate protecting churches.
“Our religious freedoms have come under attack in recent years, and this is one area where that has become very apparent. During the pandemic, churches were deemed nonessential, and closures were recommended,” Bullard said. “This bill will protect our houses of worship. I want to thank the men and women who are standing strong in supporting this bill, and others like it, to protect our religious freedoms.”
House Bill 2648 creates the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, deeming any order or rule issued by any governmental entity pursuant to an emergency that requires closure of places of worship as a substantial burden even if the order or rule is one of general applicability. Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, is the principal House author.
“As someone whose faith is integral to my life, it broke my heart to see stories about people in other areas of the country who were unable to worship as they wanted due to overreaching bureaucratic infringement of their First Amendment rights,” Hill said. “Like the majority of Oklahomans, my faith is as essential as the food I eat or the air I breathe, and I’m grateful my colleagues bravely stood up today for our freedom of religion.”
The bill now moves to the governor’s desk.