Analysis of religious liberties ranks Hawaii 30th
by Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square, September 21, 2022
(The Center Square) - Hawaii ranked 30th in the nation in a newly published study examining states’ commitment to safeguarding religious liberties.
The state received a score of 34% based on 29 items that formed six groups of safeguards.
Religious Liberty in the States 2022 originated from the First Liberty Institute and Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy as a way to evaluate the current state of religious freedom in the nation.
“Hawaii has demonstrated a historical commitment to religious liberty, echoing the federal constitution in its own state constitution of 1950 that ‘no law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’” the authors wrote.
The items used to measure what states were doing to safeguard religious liberties included absentee voting, childhood immunization requirements, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, exemptions for marriage and wedding participation, and exemptions for health care providers, among other things.
Hawaii scored a “yes” for the opportunity for absentee voting and a “yes” for exemptions from childhood immunization requirements. However, it got a “no” on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and a no for employer exemptions from the contraceptive mandate.
The state had three out of five exemptions for marriage and wedding participation and five out of 20 for health care providers, all of which fell under the umbrella of abortion refusal.
The report observed recent changes in laws concerning health insurance mandates had created a more complicated arena competing for liberty claims.
“As long as issues where Americans have deeply held but divergent and sometimes conflicting values are arbitrated by government entities (take as examples the provision of abortion by health care providers and the solemnization of marriage by clergy), the free exercise of religion will require deliberate and nimble safeguarding,” the authors wrote.
The authors said there was no state that received a perfect score “fully embracing all the possible safeguards.” Mississippi ranked at the top with a score of 81%. New York was at the bottom with a score of 15%.
“Even among those who agree that liberty is a means not an end, we submit that this sort of liberty is an essential precondition for facilitating other goods and a person’s ability to pursue his or her ultimate purpose,” said the authors.