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Religious Liberty Bill Moves Out of Idaho Committee

Benito Baeza

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A House panel kept alive a measure to protect religious people sued for refusing to serve customers they believe violate their faith. The State Affairs Committee voted 11-5 yesterday to send the bill to the House floor, where it could get amendments. All supporters were Republicans. Two Republicans joined three Democrats against the bill. The hearing focused on Republican Rep. Lynn Luker’s measure updating a 14-year-old law focusing on religious rights. Currently, Luker said, faithful people can use this law only if they’re sued by government, not if they’re sued by individuals. Nearly everyone, from Idaho Episcopalian church leaders to gay rights activists, opposed Luker’s measure, fearing it enshrines discrimination in law. One of two supporters to speak, Julie Lynde, said it closed a loophole that left religious freedoms vulnerable.



BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker’s proposal to shield religious people’s professional licenses from revocation is vulnerable to constitutional challenge. Yesterday, another Luker bill to expand legal protections for religious people who won’t serve gays cleared the House State Affairs Committee, to the dismay of activists. But his separate license measure hasn’t gotten a hearing. In his five-page analysis, Wasden cites numerous examples, including a principal who declares pork unclean — or a teacher who argues in class Idaho’s divorce statutes violate canon law. Both instances are expressions of belief that violate the U.S. Constitution’s provisions forbidding government coercion to support a religion. Here’s the rub: Wasden concludes Luker’s bill prevents disciplinary action against those state-licensed educators. Contacted yesterday, Luker said he’s reviewing the analysis.

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