Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act (HB 1228)
This law was last updated on Dec 12, 2016
HB 1228 states that “[a] state action shall not substantially burden a person’s right to exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability unless it is demonstrated that applying the substantial burden to the person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance is essential to further a compelling governmental interest, and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”
The amendment states that a person whose religious freedom has been burdened in violation of the amendment may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a judicial, administrative, or other proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against a government. Relief is not limited to relief against the state or political subdivision of the state.
The amendment allows religious freedom to be raised as a defense in lawsuits between private citizens.
This bill passed the House on February 13, 2015 and the Senate on March 27, 2015. It was sent to Gov. Hutchison for signature on March 31, 2015 but after public outcry that the law encourages discrimination against LGBTQ people, the bill was recalled on April 2, 2015. The language permitting religious freedom to be raised as a defense in a lawsuit between private citizens was stripped from SB 975, the bill which succeeded HB 1228 and which ultimately became law.