‘Exercise of Religion’ in Mississippi Permits Discrimination

Arizona may have backed down on a state law allowing discrimination in the state using the excuse of religious beliefs, but Mississippi’s Gov. Phil Byrant (R) has signed a similar bill for his state.

According to the new law, people’s “right to the exercise of religion” will not suffer a burden, which is defined as “any action that … compels any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion.”  That term “includes, but is not limited to, the ability to act or the refusal to act in a manner that is substantially motivated by one’s sincerely held religious belief, whether or not the exercise is compulsory or central to a larger system of religious belief.” In other words, people can deny goods, services, medical care, etc. to anyone and ignore civil rights legislation by claiming “exercise of religion.” The law has no qualifying language.


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