Hutchinson Won’t Sign Religious Freedom Bill without Changes

By Gary Lane

CBN News — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says he will not sign a controversial religious freedom measure, at least not in its current form.

Like the new Indiana law, the Arkansas law would allow religious objectors like Christian wedding vendors to defend their conscience rights in court.

“I ask that changes be made in the legislature, and I’ve asked that the leaders of the General Assembly recall the bill so that it can be amended to reflect the terms of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” said Hutchinson, who had initially supported the bill.

The governor’s decision comes amid criticism from left-wing opponents who view the legislation as nothing more than a vehicle for discrimination.

But Indiana’s Gov. Mike Pence pushed back against that view in a Tuesday press conference.

“The Religious Freedom Act doesn’t give anyone the right to deny services – it is simply a balancing test,” he said.

Pence acknowledged that many don’t see the new law this way. Consequently, he called for new legislation that would make clear that Hoosier businesses do not have a blanket right to refuse service.

Other states are also considering religious freedom restoration acts of their own. They include Texas, Georgia, and North Carolina.

However, support in North Carolina stalled as corporate CEOs expressed concern in meetings with state officials.

“Most of them want to take a very slow course toward it if you do it and certainly don’t go in the direction that Indiana did verbatim with their bill,” North Carolina state House Speaker Tim Moore said.

Although the firestorm over Indiana’s law is new, the legislation is not.  It’s modeled after a federal law and similar laws in other states.

Brian Brown, of the National Organization for Marriage, told CBN News the Indiana law is nothing new. He said the reaction has been completely overblown.

“Christians don’t leave their beliefs in the church. So, if you are a wedding cake baker, a florist, a videographer, you should not be compelled to use your artistic skills to support the re-definition of marriage by taking part in a ceremony,” he said.

CBN’s Efrem Graham spoke more with Brian Brown about the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom law. Click play below to watch.

And some potential Republican presidential candidates agree.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Gov. Pence “did the right thing” and is “simply allowing people of faith the space to be able to express their beliefs.”

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry agreed, saying “religious freedom is worth protecting.”

And in a Newsmax interview, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee wondered why “there were no protests when President Clinton signed similar federal legislation in 1993.”

Huckabee said, “The substance of these laws has not changed. What has changed is the anger, deception and intolerance of those on the left who assault our religious liberties.”

Report via CBN News

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

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