Public Act 90-0806
HB2370 Enrolled LRB9006195DJcdC
AN ACT concerning religious freedom.
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
represented in the General Assembly:
Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Section 5. Definitions. In this Act:
"Demonstrates" means meets the burdens of going forward
with the evidence and of persuasion.
"Exercise of religion" means an act or refusal to act
that is substantially motivated by religious belief, whether
or not the religious exercise is compulsory or central to a
larger system of religious belief.
"Government" includes a branch, department, agency,
instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under
color of law) of the State of Illinois or a political
subdivision of the State, including a home rule unit.
Section 10. Findings and purposes.
(a) The General Assembly finds the following:
(1) The free exercise of religion is an inherent,
fundamental, and inalienable right secured by Article I,
Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Illinois.
(2) Laws "neutral" toward religion, as well as laws
intended to interfere with the exercise of religion, may
burden the exercise of religion.
(3) Government should not substantially burden the
exercise of religion without compelling justification.
(4) In Employment Division v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872
(1990) the Supreme Court virtually eliminated the
requirement under the First Amendment to the United
States Constitution that government justify burdens on
the exercise of religion imposed by laws neutral toward
(5) In City of Boerne v. P. F. Flores, 65 LW 4612
(1997) the Supreme Court held that an Act passed by
Congress to address the matter of burdens placed on the
exercise of religion infringed on the legislative powers
reserved to the states under the Constitution of the
(6) The compelling interest test, as set forth in
Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Sherbert v.
Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), is a workable test for
striking sensible balances between religious liberty and
competing governmental interests.
(b) The purposes of this Act are as follows:
(1) To restore the compelling interest test as set
forth in Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and
Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 (1963), and to guarantee
that a test of compelling governmental interest will be
imposed on all State and local (including home rule unit)
laws, ordinances, policies, procedures, practices, and
governmental actions in all cases in which the free
exercise of religion is substantially burdened.
(2) To provide a claim or defense to persons whose
exercise of religion is substantially burdened by
Section 15. Free exercise of religion protected.
Government may not substantially burden a person's exercise
of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of
general applicability, unless it demonstrates that
application of the burden to the person (i) is in furtherance
of a compelling governmental interest and (ii) is the least
restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental
Section 20. Judicial relief. If a person's exercise of
religion has been burdened in violation of this Act, that
person may assert that violation as a claim or defense in a
judicial proceeding and may obtain appropriate relief against
a government. A party who prevails in an action to enforce
this Act against a government is entitled to recover
attorney's fees and costs incurred in maintaining the claim
Section 25. Application of Act; home rule powers.
(a) This Act applies to all State and local (including
home rule unit) laws, ordinances, policies, procedures,
practices, and governmental actions and their
implementation, whether statutory or otherwise and whether
adopted before or after the effective date of this Act.
(b) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a
government to burden any religious belief.
(c) Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect,
interpret, or in any way address any of the following: (i)
that portion of the First Amendment of the United States
Constitution prohibiting laws respecting the establishment of
religion, (ii) the second sentence of Article I, Section 3 of
the Illinois Constitution, or (iii) Article X, Section 3 of
the Illinois Constitution. Granting government funding,
benefits, or exemptions, to the extent permissible under the
3 constitutional provisions described in items (i), (ii), and
(iii) of this subsection, does not constitute a violation of
this Act. In this subsection, "granting", used with respect
to government funding, benefits, or exemptions, does not
include the denial of government funding, benefits, or
(d) The corporate authorities of a municipality or other
unit of local government may enact ordinances, standards,
rules, or regulations that protect the free exercise of
religion in a manner or to an extent equal to or greater than
the protection provided in this Act. If an ordinance,
standard, rule, or regulation enacted under the authority of
this Section or under the authority of a unit of local
government's home rule powers prohibits, restricts, narrows,
or burdens a person's exercise of religion or permits the
prohibition, restriction, narrowing, or burdening of a
person's exercise of religion, that ordinance, standard,
rule, or regulation is void and unenforceable as to that
person if it (i) is not in furtherance of a compelling
governmental interest and (ii) is not the least restrictive
means of furthering that governmental interest. This
subsection is a limitation under subsection (i) of Section 6
of Article VII of the Illinois Constitution on the concurrent
exercise by home rule units of powers and functions exercised
by the State.
Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect on
July 1, 1998.