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CHARLESTON (LifeSiteNews) — The governor of West Virginia has signed a law to protect religious freedom across his state. 

On Thursday, Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed the Equal Protection for Religion Act, a piece of legislation aimed to prevent the government from “more restrictively” limiting individuals engaging in religious practices than “comparable conduct.” 

The law will “amend the Code of West Virginia” by “forbidding excessive government limitations on exercise of religion; forbidding government from treating religious conduct more restrictively than any conduct of reasonably comparable risk; [and] forbidding government from treating religious conduct more restrictively than comparable conduct because of alleged economic need or benefit.” 

“No state action may substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion unless applying the burden to that person’s exercise of religion in a particular situation is essential to further a compelling governmental interest’ and is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest,” the law states.  

Governmental entities in West Virginia are also prohibited from “treat[ing] religious conduct more restrictively than comparable risk” and doing so “because of alleged economic need or benefit.” 

Citizens whose religious freedom is violated are permitted the opportunity to “assert such violation or impending violation, including against the state or its political subdivisions, as a claim or as a defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding.” Taking legal action against the government includes the condition that requested “relief is limited to injunctive or declaratory relief and reimbursement of costs and reasonable attorney fees.” 

Additionally, the legislation states that “nothing in this article may be construed to create a cause of action by an employee against a nongovernmental employer,” “constitute a defense to any claim based upon a refusal to provide emergency medical services,” and “protect actions or decisions to end the life of any human being, born or unborn, including, but limited to, any claim or defense.” 

READ: ‘Dumbest legal theory’: Pro-life attorney blasts arguments that ‘religious freedom’ protects abortion

The new law will go into effect on May 29, 2023. 

Meanwhile, the United States federal government remains under fire for the targeting of pro-lifers and Catholics in violation of federal laws protecting both freedom of speech and religion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has faced consistent backlash since its heavily armed raid of Catholic, pro-life author and father of seven, Mark Houck, who was charged with violations of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE Act). Although Houck was acquitted of all charges in January, his case sparked outrage of unfair treatment from the government. 

In the aftermath of the leaked Supreme Court opinion regarding the Dobbs case, violence and threats against faith-based crisis pregnancy centers skyrocketed. Data from after the historic overturning of Roe v. Wade found that pro-life groups experienced 22 times more violence than pro-abortion groups. Even FBI director Christopher Wray admitted that nearly 70% of abortion related violence since June 24 was targeted against religious and pro-life organizations.  

More recently, an FBI whistleblower revealed that the agency had plans to monitor Catholics and compared those who attend the Latin Mass to “white nationalists.” Earlier this week, another whistleblower from the federal entity suggested that the FBI had even shifted its threat tag to focus on pro-lifers following Roe’s reversal. 


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