LANDGRAF: Keep our churches open

By State Rep. Brooks Landgraf

Religious freedom is a foundational principle in America. And though it’s enshrined in our Constitution, each generation must work diligently to keep it in practice. As a man of faith, I’m proud to be involved in the fight to protect our religious freedom here in our state.

I’m pleased to tell you what my fellow legislators and I have done this year to protect your religious freedom and ensure your right to worship is never prohibited in Texas.

Over the last year, many restrictions were put in place by some local governments that forced the closure of churches and other places of worship.

We saw in some cases our right to worship curtailed by elected officials overstepping their constitutional authority during times of emergency. That’s why I’m working at the Capitol to make sure that governments cannot again infringe on our right to worship, even in times of emergency or disaster, when so many people often seek guidance and comfort in their religion.

SJR 27, which has already been approved by both the Texas House of Representatives and the Texas Senate, will give Texas voters the opportunity to strengthen religious freedom by changing the state Constitution to include a ban on local officials closing houses of worship. This proposed constitutional amendment will be voted on in the next November general election. If passed by voters, the Constitution would prohibit the state or a political subdivision from enacting, adopting, or issuing a statute, order, proclamation, decision, or rule that prohibits or limits religious services.

HB 1239, another bill passed by the Texas House and awaiting consideration in the Texas Senate, seeks to protect freedom of religion and freedom of assembly in the event of future executive orders. In effect, this bill would prohibit the closure of places of worship through the use of emergency powers.

A third bill, HB 525, was passed by the Texas House and is being considered in the Texas Senate, would designate all religious organizations and their activities as essential at all times, even during declared states of disaster or emergency.

I believe that these are all necessary measures to ensure that our religious freedom is never encroached upon by unconstitutional government overreach. Our freedom to practice our religion how we see fit is guaranteed to us by the Constitution. As your state representative, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, and I take it very seriously.

I will do everything in my power to try to get these important pieces of legislation, and other priorities for our community, across the finish line to make the Basin and Texas the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

God bless Texas!