Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill into law on May 27 that strengthens the state’s protections for religious freedom by specifying that religion includes outward expressions of faith, not just inward belief.
The law, HB 1063, amends the state’s anti-discrimination laws to include a definition of religion. Under the anti-discrimination law on public accommodations, employment and housing, citizens cannot discriminate based on religion.
“Religion,” as now defined by the state law, “includes any outward expression of religious faith, including adherence to religious dressing and grooming practices and the carrying or display of religious items or symbols.”
Religious liberty law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) applauded the new law and commended Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly for clarifying the expression of faith in the law.
“All Americans are guaranteed the right to free speech and the free exercise of religion. Government officials have a duty to protect and promote these freedoms,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregory S. Baylor. “HB 1063 provides a necessary and helpful clarification in the law to help ensure Virginians won’t face discrimination simply for outwardly expressing their religious beliefs.
“Virginia law forbids discrimination on the basis of religion in multiple contexts yet fails to define the actual term religion, which can leave Virginians vulnerable to hostile reactions to expressions of their faith. We commend Gov. Youngkin and the Virginia General Assembly for resolving this ambiguity so that Virginians can freely live out their faith without fear of government punishment.”
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