The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill granting broad exemptions to people who disobey state laws on the basis of religious objections.
The sponsor of Senate Bill 158, Sen. Jimmy Higdon, R-Lebanon, said it is designed to protect the free exercise of religion from unnecessary restriction by government. He said it would give courts “more ammunition in favor of religion” when considering cases such as the jailing of Amish residents in Western Kentucky who refused to use orange safety triangles on their buggies and Christians in Bell County who want to hold public prayer at school athletic events. The bill would “prohibit any human authority from burdening actions that are based on religious beliefs, except in support of a compelling governmental interest using the least restrictive means to further that interest.” The government would have to prove it has a “compelling interest” before it could restrict someone’s religious freedom, Higdon said.
The bill is backed the Kentucky Family Foundation and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.