Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant ignored political correctness and immediately signed a bill called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Thursday. The bill, which becomes law July 1, states that the government of Mississippi cannot make the practice of religion unreasonably burdensome.
An example of this would be to restrict the construction of religious buildings by using zoning laws to keep them out, while welcoming secular businesses. The bill also states that “In God We Trust” will be added to the state’s seal.
The bill was submitted after a previous bil,l which emulated Arizona’s failed attempt to protect religious rights, was shelved. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed her state’s religious rights bill.
Almost 80 gay-rights supporters traveled to the state Capitol in Jackson to protest the bill. Jeff White of Waveland, a founder of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Lesbian and Gay Community Center, said, “It’s the first time in my life that I’ve actually considered moving out of Mississipi. It made me physically ill the past few days, realizing what they’re trying to do.”
Bryant signed the bill at a private ceremony. Various elected officials, lobbyists for Mississippi’s Southern Baptist Convention, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC), joined Bryant for the ceremony. FRC has been urging states to pass legislation similar the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 1993.
Perkins noted that Mississippi is the 19th state in the last 18 years to pass its own religious-practices law. He said, “Those who understand the importance and cherish the historic understanding of religious freedom are grateful for leaders who respond to fact and not fictitious claims of those who are trying to quarantine faith within the walls of our churches or homes.”