Gov. Ivey signs ‘religious liberty’ executive order

Published 11:03 am Tuesday, January 24, 2023

On Jan. 20, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed her eighth executive order of the year “promoting and defending religious liberty through implementation of the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment.”

Ivey’s executive order is designed to “ensure the enforcement of the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment.” The amendment to the Alabama Constitution was proposed and ratified into Alabama law in 1998. The amendment’s purpose was to “guarantee that the freedom of religion is not burdened by state and local law; and to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious freedom is burdened by the government.”

Ivey’s executive order sets out several “well-established legal principles providing religious-liberty protections for professionals and businesses holding a government license, state contractors, grant recipients, recipients of government benefits and state employees.”

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The executive order specifically protects the religious rights of government contractors, state employees and citizens requesting government services and it forbids discrimination on the basis of faith or lack of faith or religious belief.

One provision will require state executive-branch agencies to consider potential burdens on religious exercise when administrative rules are adopted. Another provision will require agencies to allow state employees to express their faith to the same extend that they allow employee expression that is not religious in nature.

“Religious freedom is the cornerstone of the American way of life, and as a governor, I will always protect the rights of Alabamians and ensure they are free to exercise their beliefs as provided in the Constitution,” Ivey said. “As I have promised, under my watch, our state government will always reflect the values of our people.”