Current Law: N.M. Stat. §§28-22-1 to -5 (2000)

Enacted: April 12, 2000

§ 28-22-1. Short title

  • Sections 1 through 5  [28-22-1 to 28-22-5 NMSA 1978] of this act may be cited as the “New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act”.

§ 28-22-2. Definitions

  • As used in the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act [28-22-1 NMSA 1978]:
    • A.  “free exercise of religion” means an act or a refusal to act that is substantially motivated by religious belief; and
    • B.  “government agency” means the state or any of its political subdivisions, institutions, departments, agencies, commissions, committees, boards, councils, bureaus or authorities.

§ 28-22-3. Religious freedom protected; exceptions

  • A government agency shall not restrict a person’s free exercise of religion unless:
    • A.  the restriction is in the form of a rule of general applicability and does not directly discriminate against religion or among religions; and
    • B.  the application of the restriction to the person is essential to further a compelling governmental interest and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

§ 28-22-4. Private remedies

  • A.  A person whose free exercise of religion has been restricted by a violation of the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act [28-22-1 NMSA 1978] may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government agency, including:
    • (1)  injunctive or declaratory relief against a government agency that violates or proposes to violate the provisions of the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act [28-22-1 NMSA 1978]; and
    • (2)  damages pursuant to the Tort Claims Act [41-4-1 NMSA 1978], reasonable attorney fees and costs.
  • B.  Immunity from liability of the government agency and its employees is waived for an action brought pursuant to this section.

§ 28-22-5. Construction of act

Nothing in the New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act [28-22-1 NMSA 1978] authorizes a government agency to burden a person’s free exercise of religion. The protection of the free exercise of religion granted in that act is in addition to the protections granted by federal law and the state and federal constitutions. The New Mexico Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not affect the grant of benefits or tax exemptions to religious organizations nor does it impair any other exemptions granted by law.