How Did So Many ‘Religious Freedom’ Bills Turn Up in the States at Once?

Protest of "religious freedom" bill in Topeka, KS. (Courtesy Planting Peace.)

Protest of “religious freedom” bill in Topeka, KS. (Courtesy Planting Peace.)

Right-wing organizations and politicians are working feverishly in the states to ban the rights of LGBTQ people under the guise of “religion.” Losing in the courts of law and in the court of public opinion, they want to chip away at our gains. A “religious exemption” law that would allow wedding businesses, hotel and restaurant owners, even public employees like firefighters, police, and EMS workers to refuse service to LGBTQ people has already passed and been signed into law in Mississippi. Another has been proposed by ballot initiative in Oregon. Legislatures in Kansas, Idaho, South Dakota, Tennessee, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona have considered or voted for these bills.

Turns out some familiar figures of the Religious Right are behind these laws. In the wake of the spring rain of marriage equality, these laws have sprung up across the country like poisonous mushrooms. And Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council are the ones making the initiatives happen. Focus on the Family and Family Research Council work with “Family Policy Councils” in all of the 50 states that propose anti-LGBTQ laws to state legislators. They provide research and communications support through their propaganda arm, CitizenLink. (See a revealingly-named CitizenLink video here: “Jim Crow or Religious Freedom?“)

Here’s a graphic illustrating the process:


Policies come from strategists at Focus on the Family and Family Research Council.




Promoted through CitizenLink, Focus on the Family’s Policy Propaganda Machine.




Policies lobbied to legislatures through Family Policy Councils and State Policy Networks. 





Nearly identical “religious freedom” laws emerge at the same time in multiple states.

As usual, our adversaries are dressing up old-fashioned discrimination in the guise of old-time religion.



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