Looking Back: Ten Years of Protecting Religious Liberty in Mississippi

By Aaron Rice
May 4, 2021

“People overestimate what they can accomplish in one legislative session and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten.”

In this series, we are conducting a review of all Mississippi lawmakers have accomplished over the last 10 years. Again, the list provided here is not comprehensive, and we feature only the policies we like, some of which were initiated by MCPP (marked by an *asterisk* below).

Conservative lawmakers are often criticized for using “God and Gun” policies to distract voters from what are suggested by some to be more important issues. We see no reason why lawmakers need to choose between broad civil liberty protections and economic liberty. In the last few weeks, we have highlighted legislative accomplishments in three areas: religious liberty protections, pro-life protections, and Second Amendment (and Other) protections.

Here are Mississippi’s best-in-the-nation religious liberty laws:

In 2013, the Legislature passed the Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act (SB 2633), sponsored by Senator Chris McDaniel. The law protects the free speech and freedom of assembly rights of students wishing to pray or express a religious viewpoint in a public-school setting.

In 2014, Mississippi joined 19 other states in enacting state-level RFRA protections (SB 2681), sponsored by Senator Phillip Gandy. RFRA stands for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It requires that the state of Mississippi not enact policies that would “substantially burden” the free exercise of religion. The federal “Equality Act,” which has already passed the U.S. House, specifically overrides federal RFRA protections.*

In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” sponsored by Speaker Philip Gunn (HB 1523). This law prevents the state government from enforcing discriminatory policies against those with strongly held beliefs related to the proper ordering of marriage and human sexuality. The law protects adoption agencies, businesses, and churches, among others. It is the strongest law of its kind in the country. The law has been upheld by the federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.*


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