FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2021
AUSTIN, TX ― The Texas House of Representatives on Tuesday passed Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 27 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Representative Jeff Leach (R-Plano), proposing an amendment to the Texas Constitution that will permanently prohibit state and local governments from shutting down religious services.
"Gathering together, corporate worship, is fundamental to our free exercise of faith," said Sen. Hancock. "In Texas, we're going to ensure that right is never ignored, revoked or trampled on."
"We must never waver in our commitment to protect the fundamental religious liberties of all Texans - and with the passage of the Texas Essential Church Act, we’ve done just that," added Rep. Leach. "In both times of calm and in times of crisis, we shouldn’t limit the Church — we should unleash the Church. And that’s what this Constitutional Amendment achieves."
Religious services in Texas were designated as essential throughout the COVID-19 crisis. However, in some instances, political subdivisions attempted to force parishes and places of worship to shut down or placed such severe restrictions on religious gatherings that they were effectively banned.
Gov. Greg Abbott in his Feb. 1 State of the State Address pointed to those instances as well as blatant infringements in other states, and stated the following upon final passage of SJR 27 this week:
"Religious Liberty is enshrined in the First Amendment, and it’s part of the foundation on which America was built. We must always protect Texans’ right to worship, and this legislation will help prevent any government entity from shutting down religious activities in Texas. I thank Representative Leach and Senator Hancock for their leadership to safeguard religious freedom in Texas."
Proposed constitutional amendments must meet the high standard of two-thirds support of each legislative chamber. The resolution passed the Texas Senate 28-2 on March 25 and passed the Texas House 108-33 yesterday.
SJR 27 gives Texas voters the final say during the constitutional amendment election to be held on Nov. 2. To view ballot language or legislative analysis for the proposed amendment, visit capitol.texas.gov.