On religious liberty, a blue state beats all

On religious liberty, a blue state beats all

On religious liberty, a blue state beats all

A Christian law firm hopes its state-by-state ranking of religious liberty will compel the poor-performing states to strive for improvement.

The Center for Religion, Culture, and Democracy (CRCD), an initiative of First Liberty Institute, recently published the results of its second annual Religious Liberty in the States index, a ranking of how the 50 states protect religious liberty for their residents based on 14 legal safeguards.

The assessed safeguards include conscience protections for healthcare workers, opportunities for absentee voting for religious reasons, the freedom of religious organizations to decline participation in marriage and wedding ceremonies that conflict with their beliefs, and exemptions to childhood immunization requirements.

Mark David Hall, a CRCD senior research fellow and a political science professor at Regent University's Robertson School of Government, worked on the project and relays that the blue state of Illinois finished first, and the red state of West Virginia came in last.

Hall, Mark David (CRCD) Hall

"I think it is important to note that, for instance, South Carolina is number two in the nation, Mississippi's number four, Ohio's number four, [and] Arkansas is number seven, so it's not totally crazy," he tells AFN. "It's not like all the blue states are at the top and all the red states are at the bottom, but I absolutely concede we would not have expected Illinois to be number one and West Virginia to be number 50."

Hall hopes that states will review the results and take action.

"What we would hope to see from this is that those states, especially those red states, that do poorly would take it upon themselves to adopt these protections," Hall submits. "No one's keeping them from doing so."

The CRCD will release a full Religious Liberty in the States report in the fall.