Impact of 'Religious Freedom' Bill Unclear

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Jackson, Miss.

Several Mississippi lawmakers say they're confused about whether a freedom-of-religion bill is similar to a widely criticized Arizona measure that would allow people to assert religious beliefs in refusing business services to same-sex couples.

Gov. Phil Bryant said Wednesday that he wants attorneys to study Senate Bill 2681, called the "Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act." It passed the Senate on Jan. 31 and awaits consideration in a House committee.

The ACLU of Mississippi opposes the bill, saying it would allow discrimination against others based on race, sexual identity, religion and national origin.

During Senate debate, there was no mention of whether the bill would allow discrimination against gay people or other groups.

Senators amended the bill to add "In God We Trust" to the state seal, as Bryant requested.