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An Illinois blogger – The Prairie Badger – recently posted a piece saying the amendment introduced by Rep. David Craig, R-Town of Vernon, and Sen. Joe Leibham, R-Sheboygan, actually turns the state’s position on religious freedom into a tool for discrimination. Here is the way Article I, Section 18 of the Constitution currently reads: “The right of every person to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any person be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry, without consent; nor shall any control of, or interference with, the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishments or modes of worship; nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of religious societies or religious or theological seminaries.” According to The Prairie Badger, here is what Craig and Leibham are proposing: “The right of conscience, which includes the right to engage in activity or refrain from activity based on a sincerely held religious belief, shall not be burdened unless the state provides it has a compelling interest in infringing upon the specific action or refusal to act, and the burden is the least-restrictive alternative to the state’s action. A burden to the right of conscience includes indirect burdens, such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or exclusion from programs or access to facilities.” In an undated press release on his legislative website, Craig says the amendment protects citizens’ religious beliefs by allowing them to act on those beliefs. “The sincerely held religious beliefs of every citizen—whether a student in a public school, a pastor of a local church or a business owner—should be respected by every level of government,” he wrote. “Our amendment would protect the right of individuals to act, or refrain from acting, based on sincerely held religious beliefs, from unreasonable burdens by the government.” The Prairie Badger – and The Badger Herald – both disagree, saying the amendment would instead allow individual religious beliefs to trump “the legitimate goals of democratic government.” Would you vote for or against this amendment?

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