The Texas Senate State Affairs Committee was told that the religious freedoms of Texans are being eroded in the face of 'political correctness,' and lawmakers were encouraged to pass stronger new laws in the 2019 session to protect religious liberty, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Ft. Worth) said many of the stories he heard come dangerously close to establishing a 'religious test' for holding office or for being a citizen, which is prohibited by the U.S. Constitution.
"Once government can dictate religious conscience, you are not on a slippery slope, you are on a cliff," Birdwell warned.
Deputy Texas Attorney General Ryan Vassar told the committee that college campuses are a prime location where religious freedom is being swept away
.He cited requirements at many colleges for all student run organizations that the group and all its members pledge allegiance to vaguely worded 'non discrimination ordinances' in order to get campus recognition, and to be able to promote their activities on campus
."These policies when applied to religious groups, require the groups to admit members who do not comply with religious beliefs of the group," he said.
He said some faith-based student groups on Texas campuses have actually been forced by the college to admit everybody, and some have disbanded rather than admit students who claim to be 'Satanists' who frequently want to join simply to undermine the group's religious mission.
A law passed in the 2017 session of the Legislature allows elected County Clerks to ask a deputy clerk to sign same sex marriage certificates, if participating in or facilitating a same sex marriage violates the clerk's religious beliefs. But Teresa Kiel with the County and District Clerks Association reported that some clerks have gotten death threats, bullying from other county officials, and some clerks in smaller counties don't have deputies available who can take over the duty of signing same sex marriage licenses.