COLUMBUS—State Representative Paul Zeltwanger (R-Mason) announced passage of House Bill 36, or the “Ohio Pastor Protection Act,” by the Ohio House of Representatives. The bill seeks to emphasize and uphold religious freedom.
House Bill 36, sponsored by Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), specifies that no ordained or licensed minister or religious society is required to solemnize a marriage or host a marriage ceremony if the marriage does not conform to the minister’s or religious society’s sincerely held religious beliefs. In these instances, the bill removes civil and criminal liabilities for any pastor or religious society that refuses to solemnize such a marriage.
“The freedom to practice one’s religion is at the heart of what it means to be an American,” said Rep. Zeltwanger. “This common sense bill protects ministers of all faiths from unnecessary prosecution or lawsuits because they chose to live out their faith. I hope my colleagues in the Senate take quick action on this important piece of legislation.”
In addition, House Bill 36 prohibits the state or a political subdivision from either penalizing or withholding benefits or privileges from a minister or religious society for exercising this freedom. Such benefits include governmental contracts, grants or other licenses.
The bill now heads to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.