Governor Abbott Signs Texas Freedom to Worship Act
Austin, Texas – Today Governor Greg Abbott signed the Freedom to Worship Act (HB 1239) by Texas Rep. Scott Sanford and Sen. Angela Paxton. HB 1239 makes it clear in law that a government agency or public official is prohibited from issuing an order that closes or has the effect of closing places of worship.
Jonathan Saenz, Attorney and President for Texas Values released the following statement:
“The Freedom to Worship Act is now the law in Texas. This is an answer to the prayers of many and makes it clear that churches are absolutely essential for the spiritual, physical, and mental well-being for individuals and must be protected. We thank Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, Rep. Sanford, and Senator Paxton for their leadership on this religious freedom priority effort.”
In the past year, Texans 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 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.
HB 1239 passed with bipartisan support during session and goes in effect immediately, having received the necessary two-thirds vote in both chambers required by the Texas Constitution.