Religious freedom is a fundamental right that is safeguarded by the US Constitution and the laws of each state. In Hawaii, the state has implemented several laws to guarantee that individuals are able to practice their religion without fear of discrimination or persecution. The Hawaii Religious Freedom Restoration Act is one such law that prevents the state and counties from enacting laws that significantly impede a person's free exercise of religion. This law was established in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in the Smith case, which established a limited view of religious freedom protection. The purpose of this law is to reestablish the proof of best interest that previously applied to court cases related to the free exercise of religion.
It also guarantees that neutral laws cannot be used to substantially hinder religious practice. The Hawaii Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) has stated that this law “codifies the constitutional protection of the free exercise of religion, stipulating that no minister, priest, official of a denomination or religious society or religious society that has no clergy but who offers solemnizations or is authorized to celebrate marriages is obliged to solemnize any marriage and will not be subject to any fine, penalty, or civil action for failure to or refuse to solemnize any marriage.”The Hawaii Religious Freedom Restoration Act also applies to public accommodations, marriage, and funded sexual health education programs. This means that individuals are protected from discrimination based on their religious beliefs in these areas. For example, businesses cannot refuse service to someone based on their religion and schools cannot deny access to sexual health education programs due to religious beliefs. The concept that religious freedom should not be restricted is shared by those who are actively involved in curtailing religious freedom.
However, eliminating religious practice is not the same as eliminating discrimination. By declaring that religious faith has no place anywhere where commerce takes place, the State (not the churches) is the one who turns Mammon into a god. The United States Congress agreed with this position and, in 1993, with strong bipartisan support, enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to prevent federal, state, and local governments from imposing a substantial burden on a person's free exercise rights. This act also allows for exemptions from military service on religious grounds for those who oppose all wars for religious reasons, as well as those who oppose only unjust wars on religious grounds. In conclusion, Hawaii has implemented several laws to protect individuals' right to freely practice their religion without fear of discrimination or persecution. These laws apply to public accommodations, marriage, and funded sexual health education programs.
The Hawaii Religious Freedom Restoration Act also ensures that neutral laws cannot be used to substantially hinder religious practice. Finally, exemptions from military service on religious grounds are allowed for those who oppose all wars for religious reasons as well as those who oppose only unjust wars on religious grounds.