House Bill 1228, called the "Conscience Protection Act" - by Rep. Bob Ballinger, R, Hindsville and Sen. Bart Hester, R, Cave Springs (both near Springdale): Seems to protect religious liberty, but actually allows people--and businesses--to use religion to discriminate against others.
This bill being heard again--TOMORROW, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, in a SPECIAL ORDER IN HOUSE COMMITTEE.
- The Constitution already protects freedom of religion: this bill is unnecessary
- This new law puts religious beliefs ahead of the common good
- Public Safety--A man could claim his beliefs give him the right to ignore domestic violence laws and harm his wife and children
- Business liability--Employees could claim they don't have to follow company policies that don't comply with their beliefs: restaurant worker doesn't want to serve mixed race couple--restaurant gets sued.
- A landlord could refuse to rent to an unmarried couple, or a woman who has had children without being married.
- A teacher could refuse to teach a gay student.
If this bill passes, people and businesses could argue that their religious beliefs allow them to refuse to comply with other laws or policies, and that there is an open season on discrimination.