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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steven Jacob (R)

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Thursday, May 9, 2024

ST. PAUL - Minnesota’s religious organizations are a step away from once again having the right to hire employees who meet their mission, thanks to Republican insistence that this religious freedom be restored.


On May 7, the legislature approved a plan amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) to re-establish protections for religious entities against discrimination claims. The move was necessary after a law passed by Democrats last year interfered with the First Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion. 


State Representative Steve Jacob (R-Altura) said the legislation was not only necessary but overdue.


“Local churches and private Christian schools in our district were very concerned about needing to comply with this government regulation,” Jacob said. “Forcing a faith-based organization to accept teachers and staff who hold beliefs that differ from the church is a violation of the First Amendment. Religious organizations from our area reached out to their congregations to let them know they needed to contact legislators about the issue, and that outreach made a positive difference.”


Jacob said before last year, when gender identity was included within the MHRA definition of sexual orientation, the still-existing religious exemption for sexual orientation covered gender identity claims as well. When a new, separate definition of gender identity was created by Democrats last year, there was no corresponding religious exemption added. 


If Governor Walz signs the bill into law, that religious exemption will be re-established.


“It is uncommon for religious institutions to become involved in politics, but in this case, they understood that silence was perceived as consent,” Jacob said. “I want to give credit to the churches in my district. It was their activism that precipitated this victory!”