Of note: Church News

As urged by members of numerous faiths, including the LDS Church, the U.S. House of Representatives passed on May 11 a bill to make it tougher for the government to interfere with freedom of religion.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed on a voice vote, is designed to overturn a 1990 Supreme Court ruling that allowed laws to interfere with religion if they have rational reasons and do not specifically target any group. Under previous rules, such interference was allowed only if government could prove it had a dire, "compelling" interest, and then used in the least restrictive means possible.Supporters said that without the bill such religious practices as using sacramental wine, wearing a yarmulke and the kosher slaughter of animals could be jeopardized.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, and a former Utah Supreme Court justice, went to Washington last year to officially seek action by endorsing the bill. He testified in hearings that the early persecution of the Church shows the need for strong laws to prevent interference with small groups that may not be popular.

"If past is prologue, the forces of local, state and federal governmental power, now freed from the compelling-interest test, will increasingly interfere with the free exercise of religion," Elder Oaks said.

Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, a member of the Church, told the House: "Freedom of religion is one of the most fundamental truths upon which this great nation was established. I am a member of a church whose people were once cruelly persecuted, and I remember the anguish of my ancestors, who were driven from their homes because the government of this nation condoned oppression."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed