Freedom to Worship Act Passes; Headed to Governor’s Desk
Today Texas Legislators voted with bipartisan support for final passage of the Freedom to Worship Act (HB 1239). We thank Texas Rep. Scott Sanford and Sen. Angela Paxton, the authors of the bill, for their leadership in getting this necessary legislation to the governor’s desk. The House agreed to amendments made by the Senate on the bill. The Freedom to Worship Act now heads to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.
Jonathan Saenz, attorney and president for Texas Values released this statement.
“The Freedom to Worship Act getting passed is an answer to prayers; as religious leaders and churches will no longer have to worry about government officials shutting them down. Churches are essential, and passing the Freedom to Worship Act was also essential so that rogue government officials know that there are limits to their power. Churches are absolutely essential for the spiritual, physical, and mental well-being for individuals and must be protected.”
In the past year, our state saw an attack on religious freedom like never before. Many local government officials in Texas abused their power by limiting or shutting down churches as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic while allowing secular businesses such as liquor stores to remain open. Churches were being treated differently than secular businesses. There were widespread reports of government officials threatening and putting pressure on churches and religious leaders even after Gov. Abbott made statements that churches could remain open.
Churches across the country had to defend their rights all the way up to the U. S. Supreme Court. Recently, California Gov. Newsom was ordered to pay $1.35 million to a Los Angeles church for unconstitutionally restricting and closing California churches. At least 23 states have considered legislation ensuring churches are protected from burdensome governmental overreach.
HB 1239 makes it clear that government agencies or officials cannot shut down places of worship. Gov. Greg Abbott has previously stated his support for religious freedom protection legislation and he is expected to sign this legislation into law.