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First Liberty announced its 2023 Religious Liberty in the State Index late last week. The Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy publishes a nationwide index of domestic religious freedom by state.

It focuses on select legal safeguards of religious exercise in statutes and constitutions. In its second year, the study takes an even deeper dive than last year’s.

Iowa ranks 33rd with a 2023 index score of 40. Iowa is tied with Oregon and just behind Nevada and Massachusetts.

The top-five states are:

South Carolina
New Mexico

The bottom five states are:

New York
New Hampshire
West Virginia

Factors taken into consideration for 2023 include:
1. Absentee Voting
2. Health-Care Provision—General Conscience
3. Health-Care Provision—Abortion Refusal
4. Health-Care Provision—Sterilization Refusal
5. Health-Care Provision—Contraception Refusal
6. Health Insurance Contraceptive Mandate
7. Marriage & Weddings—Religious Entity Refusal
8. Marriage & Weddings—Public Official Recusal
9. Marriage & Weddings—For-Profit Business Nonparticipation
10. *Religious Ceremonial Life—Clergy as Mandatory Reporters
11. *Religious Ceremonial Life—Ceremonial Use of Alcohol
by Minors
12. Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)
13. School-Aged Children—Childhood Immunization
14. *School-Aged Children—Excused Absences for
Religious Reasons
(* new this year)

Iowa’s complete scorecard can be found here.

Iowa struggles despite having seven straight years of a Republican trifecta in state government.


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