Title: Religious Freedom Restoration Act is Reintroduced in Congress The Official Journal

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Title: Religious Freedom Restoration Act is Reintroduced in Congress From: AMER Intelligence The Official Journal of the Alliance for Magical and Earth Religions, Volume 1, Number 1. copyright 1991 by AMER and the respective authors. All rights reserved. (Permission to reprint has been granted by AMER.) "The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1991" which is currently pending before the House Committee on the Judiciary is intended to restore the religious rights of all Americans which were taken away by a 1990 Supreme Court decision (Oregon v. Smith). This case concerned two drug counselors who were fired in 1982 because they admitted using peyote during certain ceremonies of the Native American church. They were also denied unemployment compensation, and sued to get the denial overturned. The Oregon State Supreme Court ruled in their favor, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against them. In the majority opinion, which was written by Justice Scalia, the court did much more than just address the issue of whether the use of a controlled substance could be protected by the first amendment. In effect it nullified many previous court rulings which had established that religious freedom is a fundamental right, just as is free speech, and that the state must demonstrate a compelling state interest before any law of general applicability could be enacted which would result in a restriction of religious practices. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1991 (H.R. 2797) is designed to restore the rights which this decision has taken away, and has a very broad base of support within the religious and political community. For example, both the Mormon Church and the ACLU have joined forces to support this legislation. This bill is a reintroduction of a bill submitted in 1990 which died in committee, possibly because of preoccupation with the Persian Gulf War at the time when the committee hearings where originally scheduled to take place. Both Senators Orrin Hatch and Joseph Biden, who are members of the Senate Judiciary committee, have expressed interest in reintroducing a Senate version of the bill, but as of yet no such legislation has been formally submitted. AMER is indebted to Officer Frank Medina of Wisconsin who was the first person to bring the original legislation to our attention back in 1990. We strongly urge all religious practitioners and civil libertarians to write to or call their congressional representative and senators and urge them to support this legislation. It would also be a good idea to write to the chairpersons of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees urging them to support it as well. Otherwise, this very important legislation may never get out of committee to be voted on in the first place. Their names and addresses are: Representative Jack Brooks House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515-2501 and Senator Joseph Biden United States Senate Washington, DC 20510-2502 For a copy of the bill write to your U.S. representative. AMER urges you to tell all of your friends and acquaintances about this bill, and stress to them how important it is to all religious Americans. /end of article/

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