Today the supporters of the Texas Religious Freedom Amendment, SJR 4, overwhelmed the Senate State Affairs committee in support of needed religious freedom protection. Leading legal and constitutional experts, faith-community leaders, and pro-family/pro-life leaders lined up to testify in favor of SJR 4. In addition, over 20 other leaders and organizations also signed in with their support but did not testify. The resounding message at the committee hearing was that we need religious freedom protection in our state constitution now.
Of course the usual opposition to this effort, the ACLU and the Texas Municipal League showed up against. No one else opposed SJR 4 except for Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life. Joe Pojman and Paul Linton have written memos claiming that strong religious freedom protection hurts the pro-life movement.
While we are sure that there are good intentions, this abortion argument is without merit. Two of the finest religious liberty experts, Kelly Shackelford, President and CEO of Liberty Institute, and Professor Douglas Laycock, Chair in Law Emeritus at the University of Texas and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia, submitted written testimony to the Senate Committee with a thorough and comprehensive rejection to any argument against SJR 4 and specifically rejecting the notion that strong religious freedom protection could hurt the pro-life movement if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. In reality, it is the pro-life side that needs vigorous protection for religious liberty, now and in the future.
Excerpts from their written testimony are below:
“While I am sure there are good intentions, the argument made about this effort creating a religious right to an abortion is without merit…Endangering religious freedoms protections for everyone because of such a mythical hypothetical is, in my view, a horrible mistake and may end up needlessly hurting people in the future.”
“Mr. Linton and his organization appear to have one real issue, a fear that religious liberty could somehow, someday, be distorted into a new source for the right to choose abortion. But in pursuit of that issue, they have launched a general attack on religious liberty, an attack as hostile to religion and to religious liberty as anything that could have been written by the most ardent opponent of religious faith.”