More information on Iowa SF 2154

This bill would create a legal loophole for anyone who wishes to discriminate in the name of religion, allowing individuals and corporations to ignore laws everyone else must follow if they claim it would “burden” their religion. The bar for what constitutes a burden on religion has been set very low. The Supreme Court relied on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) when ruling in 2014 that the Hobby Lobby corporation’s so-called “free exercise of religion” was “significantly burdened” by the Obamacare provision requiring medical insurance to include contraceptive coverage. Additional legal challenges make it clear that there’s no “burden” too small to trigger a religious objection (including having to complete the incredibly brief EBSA 700 form to notify the IRS of a religious objection to contraception).

Iowa’s proposed bill would tie the state’s hands by nullifying any neutral, generally applicable law that conflicts with a person’s or corporation’s religious beliefs — unless that law is “the least restrictive means of furthering [a] compelling governmental interest.” This is an extremely high bar for a law to meet, especially as religious groups increasingly use the cry of “religious persecution” to further their political agendas.

SF 2154 would not only allow the religious to use their beliefs as a sword to strike down generally applicable laws, it would also be bad for business. In 2014, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a similar Religious Freedom Restoration Act bill after high profile protests from citizens and corporations opposed to discrimination, including the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and Apple.

Religious Freedom Restoration Act laws have proved to be bad for business, women, LGBT rights, and true religious liberty. There are 21 states with these laws in place. Iowa should stick to the commonsensical rule that everyone is required to follow the law, regardless of their personal objections. Please take action today to fight SF 2154.

Freedom From Religion Foundation