An Act To Enact the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act
Sec. 1. 5 MRSA c. 337-D is enacted to read:
PRESERVATION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM ACT
§ 4801. Short title
This chapter may be known and cited as "the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act."
§ 4802. Findings
The Legislature makes the following findings:
§ 4803. Purposes
The purposes of this Act are:
§ 4804. Definitions
As used in this Act, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings.
§ 4805. Free exercise of religion protected
This bill enacts the Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. It codifies legislative findings that summarize the enshrinement of the right to the free exercise of religion in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of Maine and case law of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and the United States Supreme Court interpreting the fundamental and unalienable right to the free exercise of religion, as well as the extent to which a legislative body can legislate in this area.
The Preservation of Religious Freedom Act has as its purpose the restoration of the compelling interest test as set forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963). The Act guarantees the application of the compelling interest test in all cases in which the government substantially burdens the exercise of religion and provides a claim or defense to a person whose exercise of religion is burdened by the government.
The Act provides that the government may not directly or indirectly substantially burden a person's exercise of religion unless the application of the burden to the person is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest and is accomplished through the least restrictive means.
The Act allows a person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened in violation of the Act to assert the violation as a claim or defense in a court action.
The Act's requirement that the government's infringement upon the free exercise of religion be justified by a compelling interest is similar to the requirement placed on the Federal Government through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 and that of other states that have passed similar protections.