Georgia HB-837 (The Religious Freedom Restoration Act) makes it clear that the First Amendment Freedom of Religion will enjoy the same level of first class legal protection in Georgia that the other First Amendment rights of speech, press, and assembly currently enjoy. Look at this graph showing the First Amendment inequality in Georgia:
How the HB-837 Legislation Could Help
HB-837 takes a balanced, time-tested approach to protecting the right of religious expression. By simply referencing federal law (42 USC 2000, Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993), HB-837 ensures that Georgians have the same level of protection of their religious rights as do citizens of Washington DC, federal military bases, and inmates in our federal and state prisons.
By adopting this 1993 federal law by reference, HB-837 is clear to people of all backgrounds and perspectives that Georgia law provides citizens of all faiths the exact same level of protection from state and local government intrusion that federal law has long provided from federal government intrusion. HB-837 does not apply to cases between private parties, but only to cases between citizens and their state or local government.
The bill’s sponsor State Representative Ed Setzler of Acworth noted that, “While historically the job of the Courts, the US Supreme Court instructed state legislatures in 1997 to act legislatively to codify these protections into state law, following the lead of the US Congress in 1993. While this bill is very important, it is really just a housekeeping measure to codify the basic religious protections that most Georgians currently believe that they have. HB-837 would address real world examples such as local ordinances preventing people of faith from feeding the poor or universities treating student religious groups unfairly compared to other student groups.”