Flagged Bill: HJR 5 – Proposal to Amend Utah Constitution – Protection of Religious Rights – Rep. Jacob Anderegg

Representative Jacob Anderegg (Republican - Lehi)

Representative Jacob Anderegg (Republican – Lehi)

We recently informed you of HB 66 – Marriage Modifications from Representative Jacob Anderegg (Republican – Lehi), however HB 66 isn’t the only piece of legislation Anderegg feels is necessary to strengthen religious liberty in the state.

The more far-reaching HJR 5 – Proposal to Amend the Constitution – Protection of Religious Rights is as sweeping as it is unnecessary.

The legislation, if successful, would put before the voters the question of adding a provision to the Utah Constitution that would expressly state that no religious organization, institution, or entity, regardless of denomination will be required to perform any religious function that that institution feels is counter to its religious beliefs.

If all of this sounds somewhat familiar, it is because Anderegg is proposing a constitutional amendment to the state’s constitution that is already enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

It is not so much that Anderegg’s resolution is bad, rather it is completely unnecessary. Unless Representative Anderegg feels that somehow the First Amendment isn’t applicable in Utah with regards to religious liberty and that the State of Utah could have the power to force religions to perform rituals that go counter to their beliefs, there is simply no need for the resolution.

The reality, of course, is that Anderegg is reacting based on the recent Kitchen v. Herbert decision and a fear that clergy would somehow be forced to perform religious marriages for gay couples, even if gay marriage runs counter to the religion’s beliefs.

This is in contrast to Anderegg’s HB 66, which would allow civil servants to opt out of performing gay marriages based on religious beliefs. Under 66, civil servants could pick and choose which civil activities they wish to perform – something that raises serious concerns when we consider the concept of equal protection under the law. HJR 5, on the other hand, reminds us of the firmly held concept that any religion is free to act as they choose in the United States.

The relationship between a citizen and their God is something that government is wholly unfit to manage, and for Anderegg to express such concern on the issue raises far more concerning questions regarding how Anderegg feels government could enter this sphere.

In light of the recent comments from the LDS Church regarding religious liberty and attempting to gain political points off of the issue of same sex marriage and religious liberty, it is unclear if Anderegg’s resolution will gain traction. The resolution is ultimately harmless and redundant, but the fact that Anderegg feels it is necessary makes one take pause.

To contact Representative Anderegg, click here or call 801-901-3580.

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade D

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