Mississippi Governor Signs Faith Protections Bill

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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill protecting the freedom to practice religion.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act says governments are not allowed to put a substantial burden on religious practices.

"I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference," Bryant said in a statement Thursday.

Critics worry the proposed law, passed by the House and Senate April 1, could discriminate against gays and lesbians.

"We remain hopeful that courts throughout the state will reject any attempts to use religion to justify discrimination," Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of Mississippi's American Civil Liberties Union chapter, said in a statement. "Nobody should be refused service because of who they are."

But supporters say it's a victory for protecting religious freedom.

"This is a victory for the First Amendment and the right to live and work according to one's conscience," Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, said.

"This commonsense measure was a no-brainer for freedom, and like the federal [Religious Freedom Restoration Act], it simply bars government discrimination against religious exercise," he continued.

"The legislature gave strong approval to a bill that declares that individuals do not have to trade their religious freedom for entrance into public commerce," he said.

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