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Where are Missouri and Kansas in religious liberty state rankings?

Missouri and Kansas do a fairly good job of protecting religious liberty, a new report finds.

A survey by the Center for Religion, Culture and Democracy rated all 50 states on 11 religious liberty “safeguards,” such as whether a state has adopted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and whether it has certain protections for religious employees within health care.

The results came with a few surprises, especially when examined through the lens of America’s politically polarized culture. The conservative state of Mississippi ranked No. 1 with a score of 81.82, while the liberal state of Illinois surprisingly ranked No. 2 (80.52). New Mexico ranked a distant third with a score of 60.82, followed closely by Florida (58.01). New York, (15.58) ranked No. 50.

Kansas ranks 10th and Missouri is 14th.

“The index makes a significant and unique contribution to the field in a way that is rigorous, thorough and thoughtful,” said Kelly Shackelford, president and CEO of First Liberty Institute. “We are proud of this project and thankful for the hard work that has made it possible.”

Jordan J. Ballor, director of research for the center, said the report “provides very clear and concrete opportunities for states to improve their protections of religious liberty. For every state, there are examples from other states, whether their neighbors or from different parts of the country, that can be adapted and used to address gaps in their safeguards of free exercise,” he said.

The complete rankings are as follows: 1. Mississippi; 2. Illinois; 3. New Mexico; 4. Florida; 5. Washington; 6. Utah; 7. Tennessee; 8. Maryland; 9. Idaho; 10. Kansas; 11. Connecticut; 12. Alabama; 12. Pennsylvania (tied); 14. Maine; 14. Missouri (tied); 16. Oklahoma; 16. Rhode Island (tied); 18. Massachusetts; 18. Minnesota; 18. South Dakota (tied); 21. Arizona; 22. Delaware; 23. Indiana; 24 Montana; 25. Texas; 26. Kentucky; 27. Arkansas; 27. Louisiana (tied); 29. Wyoming; 30. Alaska; 30. Hawaii; 30. Nebraska; 30. North Carolina; 30. Ohio; 30. Virginia (tied); 36. New Jersey; 37. North Dakota; 38. South Carolina; 39. Georgia; 39. Wisconsin (tied); 41. Colorado; 42. Nevada; 43. New Hampshire; 44 Michigan; 45. Vermont; 46. Iowa; 46. Oregon (tied); 48. California; 49. West Virginia; 50. New York.

Kansas is not without serious issues, however. When she came into office, Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly said said her staff would examine whether the state can block enforcement of a new law protecting adoption agencies from being required to place children in homes against their religious beliefs.

Kelly is currently under fire for her actions regarding churches and Covid lockdowns while other public venues were allowed to remain open.

Religious Liberty in the States 2022 measures each state across 29 items that form six groups of safeguards. The list of potential safeguards were identified for their ability to protect the free exercise of religion, as shown by at least one of 50 states adopting religious liberty protection in the named area. Safeguards were further narrowed to those that could be objectively measured based on a plain reading of state law.


  • Opportunity for Absentee Voting: YesExemptions from Childhood Immunization Requirements: Yes
  • Religious Freedom
  • Restoration Act: Yes
  • Employer Exemption from the Contraceptive Mandate: Yes
  • Exemptions for Marriage & Wedding Participation: 0 of 5
  • Exemptions for Health-Care Providers: 6 of 20


  • Opportunity for Absentee Voting: Yes
  • Exemptions from Childhood Immunization Requirements: Yes
  • Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Yes
  • Employer Exemption from the Contraceptive Mandate: Yes
  • Exemptions for Marriage & Wedding Participation: 0 of 5
  • Exemptions for Health-Care Providers: 9 of 20


–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice

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