Texas Governor Signs “Pastor Protection Act” Into Law

Days before the historic Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage for the nation, Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas signed into law a bill allowing his state’s clergy to refuse to officiate marriage ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs. Abbott said it is vital that religious leaders are “secure in knowing that religious freedom is beyond government’s reach.”

“Pastors now have the freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Abbott during the signing ceremony of the so-called “Pastor Protection Act” held outside the governor’s mansion. “Freedom of religion is the most sacred of our rights and our freedom to worship is secured by the Constitution. Religious leaders in the state of Texas must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that religious freedom is beyond the reach of government or coercion by the courts.”

“Texas took a small but important step to further protect the religious freedom of clergy in the face of increasing hostility toward people of faith in all walks of life,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. “No pastor, priest, rabbi or other religious leader should be forced to perform or recognize a marriage that contradicts his or her sincere religious belief.”

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Toni Ridgaway is a content editor for the Outreach Web Network, including ChurchLeaders.com and SermonCentral.com.