CNA Staff, Nov 2, 2023 / 17:48 pm
The U.S. state with the greatest number of religious freedom safeguards is Illinois, while the state with the fewest safeguards is West Virginia, according to a new analysis.
First Liberty Institute, a Texas Christian nonprofit legal organization specializing in religious liberty cases, released its analysis Wednesday ranking all 50 states based on how free its residents are to practice their faith.
This is the second year that First Liberty has released an analysis of this type, and the 2023 index covers laws up to Dec. 31, 2022. The methodology for this year was similar to the first, with researchers narrowing the index down to 29 separate laws across 14 safeguarding categories.
The majority of those categories have to do with protections for medical professionals, allowing them to opt out of participating in abortions, sterilizations, and contraception. Other categories include laws that allow clergy or officials to opt out of marriage ceremonies, laws that allow for the use of alcohol by minors in religious ceremonies, and laws that protect religion-related excused absences for school children. Also considered are laws concerning absentee voting — whether states have laws that recognize religious holidays as a legitimate reason to vote by absentee ballot, for example.