ADL: Impact of New Mississippi Religious Freedom Bill “A License to Discriminate”

New York, NY, April 7, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed concern over Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant’s decision last week to sign into law Senate Bill 2681, a “Religious Freedom” bill which potentially discriminates and threatens the civil rights of the state’s residents.

ADL issued the following statement:

This legislation is nothing more than a license to discriminate in the name of religion that will harm the civil rights, health and safety of Mississippians.  We are deeply concerned about the detrimental impact that this bill is likely to have.

The Mississippi Legislature and Governor have ignored Arizona’s painful lesson and enacted a more harmful law.  Although other states have “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” that shield individual religious exercise, the new Mississippi law is a sword that individuals and businesses can use to impose their religious beliefs on others.

The harmful consequences of this legislation may well be far-reaching.  Invoking religious beliefs, a health care worker could use the law to refuse to give a patient a blood transfusion or psychiatric care or medicine; a law enforcement officer could refuse to serve and protect Mississippians engaged in activities contrary to the officer’s religious beliefs; and based on his or her religious beliefs, a business owner could deny service to a prospective customer.

Now that Senate Bill 2861 is the law, Mississippians victimized by it will undoubtedly look to the courts to vindicate their rights.

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Today it is the world’s leading organization combating anti-Semitism, exposing hate groups, training law enforcement on hate crimes, developing anti-bias education programs for students, countering cyber-hate and relentlessly pursuing equal rights for all.

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