Universal Life Church Case Law
Phone: (614) 715-9048 Fax: (614) 715-9049
Email: info@ulccaselaw.com
ULC Case Law
1629 K Street NW, Ste 300
Washington, D.C. 20006

Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000bb) is also known under the shortened name RFRA. Signed into United States federal law in 1993, this act aims to prevent the creation and implementation of any law(s) that places any substantial burden on a person’s free exercize rights of practicing their religion. The RFRA reinstates the Sherbert Test which was created through two cases: Sherbert v Verner and Wisconsin v Yoder, both of which mandate that strict scrutiny be used when determining if the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution – which guarantees religious freedom – has been violated.

Congress stated through its findings that “a religiously neutral law can burden a religion just as much as one that was intended to interfere with religion.” The RFRA states that that the “Government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.” The law provides an exception if two conditions are both met. First, if the burden is necessary for the “furtherance of a compelling government interest.” Under strict scrutiny, a government interest is compelling when it is more than routine and does more than simply improve government efficiency. A compelling interest relates directly with core constitutional issues. The second condition is that the rule must be the least restrictive way in which to further the government interest.

Title 42, Chapter 21B, § 2000bb. Congressional findings and declaration of purposes

(a) Findings

The Congress finds that–

(1) the framers of the Constitution, recognizing free exercise of religion as an unalienable right, secured its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution;
(2) laws “neutral” toward religion may burden religious exercise as surely as laws intended to interfere with religious exercise;
(3) governments should not substantially burden religious exercise without compelling justification;
(4) in Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the requirement that the government justify burdens on religious exercise imposed by laws neutral toward religion; and
(5) the compelling interest test as set forth in prior Federal court rulings is a workable test for striking sensible balances between religious liberty and competing prior governmental interests.

(b) Purposes

The purposes of this chapter are–

(1) to restore the compelling interest test as set forth in Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963) and Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) and to guarantee its application in all cases where free exercise of religion is substantially burdened; and
(2) to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is substantially burdened by government.

 

Recent Posts

  • The Webster Parish School Board in Louisiana announced that it plans to adopt a new policy concerning religious expression in public schools. Webster Parish Passes New Religious Policy Exception 06/14/2018

      The Webster Parish School Board in Louisiana announced in April of 2018 that it plans to adopt a new policy concerning religious expression in public schools after a lawsuit was filed claiming the school’s officials promoted religious expression that violated the First Amendment. The policy is focused on preserving and explicating the religious rights Read More

  • Washington recently became one of the latest states to ban conversion therapy for LGBTQ people. Washington Passes Law Prohibiting Conversion Therapy 06/06/2018

      Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee recently signed into law SB 7522, which protects LGBTQ individuals from conversion therapy. The bill is the result of efforts by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Equal Rights Washington. These groups have long advocated for the prohibition of conversion therapy throughout the country. In response to this decision, Read More

  • A lawsuit was recently initiated against the State of Ohio for refusing to allow people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. Lawsuit Against Ohio’s Prohibition of Gender Changes on Birth Certificates 05/18/2018

    Lambda Legal, in combination with the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) of Ohio, recently initiated legal action against the state of Ohio for its policy that prohibits people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates. Ohio, as well as Kansas and Tennessee, are the only states that decline to change gender designations even after Read More

  • A Tennessee bill that requires schools to prominently display the motto of “In God We Trust” is currently headed to the governor for his signature. Tennessee Passes “In God We Trust” Bill 05/04/2018

      A Tennessee bill that requires schools in Tennessee to prominently display the motto of “In God We Trust” is currently headed to the governor for his signature. This legislation, which is referred to as the National Motto in the Classroom Act, was passed by 81 of 99 members of the house. Prior to the Read More

  • Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that religious beliefs do not permit employers to discriminate against transgender employees, finding that a violation of Title VII. Sixth Circuit Decides Influential Transgender Case 04/27/2018

    At the beginning of March, 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the case of EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. that discrimination based on transgender status violates Title VII prohibitions against sex-based discrimination.   How the Case Arose This case was initiated when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Read More

  • Read More