Don Byrd, Proposed RFRA Amendment in Florida Offers Broad Immunity, Baptist Joint Committee

Legislation recently proposed in Florida would amend the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by adding sweeping immunity from liability for persons and certain entities that refuse on religious grounds to participate in child-placement services, create a custom product or service, or administer medical treatment. Unless the refusal places a consumer or patient in “imminent danger of loss of life or serious bodily injury,” the amended RFRA would protect against any disciplinary or recriminatory action against the refusing person or organization.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune notes that the bill would essentially allow any business to “reject any customer for religious or moral reasons.” Here’s more from that report:
Efforts to shield such business owners from dealing with same sex individuals have backfired in states such as Indiana and Arkansas, though. Facing boycotts and widespread condemnation from leaders of major corporations such as Walmart and Apple, lawmakers in both states back tracked on similar legislation earlier this year.
The sponsor, Rep. Julio Gonzalez, claims to be motivated in part by recent disputes throughout the country in which bakers, florists, and photographers have been sued for refusing to provide services for same-sex weddings due to a religious objection to same-sex marriage. Instead of relying on RFRA’s careful language to balance the rights of religious objectors with the interests of the state, this proposed law, the “Protection of Religious Freedom Act,” would tilt the scales in favor of the religious objector.
You can see Florida’s current RFRA law here. Rep. Gonzalez’s proposal, HB 401, is here.

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