One Graphic That Explains How RFRA Works

Learn all about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) by following the three steps and examples below.

By Jay Richards Published on April 1, 2015

The hysteria swirling around Indiana’s religious freedom bill is inversely proportional to its real implications. Anyone with access to Google can learn in five minutes that the bill simply requires the state to show a compelling interest before substantially burdening a person’s sincerely held religious belief, and if it does so, to choose the least restrictive means possible. In other words, if a law in Indiana compels you to do something that violates your religious belief, this new bill would give you a day in court, and require the state to show that it has a compelling interest and is restricting you as minimally as possible.

Not that complicated. The Indiana law is modeled on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and similar to other unassuming laws in twenty other states. (The main difference is that here the protection is extended to corporations, and the government need not be party.)

Clearly, the media and same-sex “marriage” activists (yes, that’s who is leading the hysteria) are assuming that most people won’t bother to do any research whatsoever.

Thanks to 1st Amendment Partnership, you don’t even need to read an article to get up to speed. They’ve created this nifty infographic that explains all you need to understand about these laws, and also suggests that the mayor of San Francisco, the governor of New York and the CEO of Apple must think we’re all stupid.


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  • Alencon

    For the federal RFRA and the 19 state RFRAs that were enacted in response to City of Bourne v. Flores which ruled in 1997 that the federal RFRA did not apply to the states your article is pretty much 100% correct.

    However, the Indiana law was different in two important ways.

    The first difference was in Section 7 where the law defines a “person” as just about any conceivable entity including “a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint stock company, or an unincorporated association.”

    The second difference was while other RFRAs talk about obtaining appropriate relief against the government, the Indiana RFRA expands that to saying that a “person” “may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”

    So this version of an RFRA goes way beyond protecting against government overreach. It is clearly crafted to allow the use of the RFRA in civil actions between individuals or organizations even if the government is not involved.

    So your graphic, while accurate for the federal RFRA, is woefully inadequate for the Indiana RFRA as originally drafted.

  • Tyrone Barnes

    Great graph. Thanks for the read out.

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