JACKSON, Miss. (UPI) — Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will protect “Mississippians of all faiths from government interference,” as he signed the controversial bill.
Supporters say the measure is similar to a Federal law passed in 1993 that requires proof of a “compelling interest” in any government measure that imposes a “substantial burden” on religious practices. Critics say its real aim is to allow discrimination against homosexuals.
The law, which Bryant signed Thursday, also adds “In God We Trust” to the Mississippi State seal. It takes effect in July.
“I am proud to sign the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which will protect the individual religious freedom of Mississippians of all faiths from government interference,” Bryant said.
The Mississippi law was redrafted twice before being approved this week by the State Legislature.
A number of States have religious freedom laws on their books, and others have recently considered them. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer recently vetoed a bill, and the Oklahoma Senate effectively killed one that had already passed the House by a wide margin.
In Arizona, a number of businesses lobbied against the bill and said the State might lose the 2015 Super Bowl. Critics said the law was so broad that cab drivers who believe for religious reasons that women should not travel alone could refuse to serve them.