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Texas Voters Protect Religious Freedom, Now Churches Can't Be Forced to Close

Worshipper in church.

Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday banning state or local authorities from prohibiting or limiting religious services, including those in churches and other places of worship.

Known as Proposition 3 on the ballot, it received 62% approval from voters. 

Supporters say the amendment was a way to reinforce religious protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Freedom to Worship Law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last June. 

The Baptist Standard reports when Texas lawmakers considered the proposal to place the amendment on the ballot, the Texas Senate voted 28-2 in favor, and the state House of Representatives approved the measure 108-33.

The proposition was seen as a direct response to COVID-19 pandemic closures.  Ten Texas counties issued executive orders limiting religious gatherings at the beginning of the pandemic in March and April of 2020, according to the Standard. 

Eric McDaniel, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin, told Courthouse News Service recently that the bipartisan support of the amendment was not surprising.

"Religion, especially in Texas, is very important to people and no politician wants to be seen as anti-religion," McDaniel said. "Going after religion in Texas is probably worse than going after Social Security."

Opponents of the proposition said the measure is overly broad and unnecessary.

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