HB 542 - Authorizes Places of Worship to Stay Open During States of Emergency - New Hampshire Key Vote

Stage Details

Title: Authorizes Places of Worship to Stay Open During States of Emergency

See How Your Politicians Voted

Title: Authorizes Places of Worship to Stay Open During States of Emergency

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that authorizes places of worship to stay open during states of emergency.



  • Defines “substantial burden” as any action that directly or indirectly constrains, inhibits, curtails, or denies the exercise of religion by any person or compels any action contrary to a person’s exercise of religion. It includes, but is not limited to, withholding benefits, assessing criminal, civil, or administrative penalties or damages, or exclusion from governmental programs or access to governmental facilities (Sec. 546-C:1.VII).

  • Alleges governments have trampled on religious exercise by crafting generally applicable laws which do not explicitly target a religion or religious activity (Sec. 2.IV).

  • Classifies “religious organization” as the following (Sec. 546-C:1.III):

    • A house of worship, including but not limited to churches, synagogues, mosques, shrines, and temples;

    • A religious group, corporation, association, educational institution, ministry, order, society, or similar entity, regardless of whether it is integrated or affiliated with a church or other house of worship; or

    • An officer, owner, employee, manager, religious leader, clergy, or minister of an entity or organization.

  • Prohibits state action from substantially burdening a person’s right to exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless it is demonstrated that applying the burden to that person’s exercise of religion in this particular instance (Sec. 546-C:2.I):

    • Is essential to further a compelling governmental interest; and

    • Is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

  • Authorizes a person whose exercise of religion has been burdened, or is likely to be burdened, in violation of this law to assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or one of its political subdivisions is a party to the proceeding (Sec. 546-C:2.II).

  • Authorizes a religious organization to assert a violation of this law as a claim against the state government in any judicial or administrative proceeding or as a defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding without regard to whether the proceeding is brought by or in the name of the state government, any private person, or any other party (Sec. 546-C:3.IV).

  • Specifies this chapter applies to, and in cases of conflict supersedes, each statute that impinges upon the free exercise of religion protected by this law, unless a conflicting state statute is expressly made exempt from the application of this law (Sec. 546-C:5.IV).

Title: Authorizes Places of Worship to Stay Open During States of Emergency