Bishop Anthony B. Taylor issued the following statement Friday, April 3, 2015 after the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into law on April 2.

“This week the effort to enact an Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act was closely followed and analyzed within and outside our state. Those ‘for’ and ‘against’ the proposed bill passionately lobbied for their positions. In the end Gov. Asa Hutchison had to decide what was best for Arkansas. He used wisdom and prudence in calling for a state law that closely mirrored the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 that was passed and signed with scarcely an objection.

“In the United States religious liberty is our first and most cherished liberty. It is a God-given right protected by our nation’s Constitution, federal law and now state law. Not only Catholics, but people of all religious faiths and worshipping communities in our country need to be free to live their faith and act according to their conscience without fear of government interference.

"All people of good will need to be vigilant in protecting our fundamental right of religious freedom. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is but one of the mechanisms our nation uses to balance the competing but legitimate interests of citizens in our pluralistic society.

“There are some who view the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act as an attempt to condone invidious discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons based on religious beliefs, which the Catholic Church strongly opposes and which the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not in fact do.

"Choosing not to participate in certain ceremonies or activities due to religious convictions is not discrimination against the persons involved, nor is it necessarily an expression of hatred toward the persons involved. Rather, it is very simply a choice to abstain from participating in conduct or actions that may be irreconcilable with one’s sincere religious beliefs, and it is the right to abstain from these actions which the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act seeks to protect. The Catholic Church teaches and believes that all persons (including LGBT persons) have an inherent worth and dignity, and that all persons, precisely because they are persons, should be accorded dignity and respect.”