SHOCK: Blue State No. 1 for Religious Liberty

A shocking new report on religious liberty found that a Democrat-led state is leading the way.

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Illinois ranked No. 1 in the second annual Religious Liberty in the States (RLS) index released Thursday by the Center for Religion, Culture & Democracy (CRCD), an initiative of First Liberty Institute.

The ranking of how 50 states protect religious liberty for their residents through legislation based the results on 14 legal “safeguards” of religious liberty, including conscience protections for healthcare workers, opportunities for absentee voting for religious reasons, the freedom of religious organizations to decline participation in marriages and weddings conflicting with their beliefs, and exemptions to childhood immunization requirements.

“Many states will find their results shocking. As the only academic, peer-reviewed, objective index on religious freedom comparing the states, the Religious Liberty in the States index released today presents the facts,” said Kelly Shackelford, President, CEO, and Chief Counsel to First Liberty Institute. “Citizens of many states will be rightfully demanding improvement.”

Illinois stands alone at the top of this year’s RLS rankings, with a score of 85%. South Carolina came in a distant second place with a score of 67%. The rankings defy political stereotyping, as both red and blue states are at the top and bottom of the rankings. Conservative Texas ranks near the bottom (42nd), while progressive-leaning New Mexico (third), Washington (sixth), and Maryland (ninth) all occupy the top 10.

“RLS provides valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of religious liberty protections in different states, empowering them to enhance their safeguards,” explained Jordan J. Ballor, Director of Research at CRCD. “There are indications of increased state legislative activity across the 14 safeguard areas, and we look forward to documenting them in the forthcoming RLS 2024 data and scores.”


  1. Illinois
  2. South Carolina
  3. New Mexico
  4. Mississippi (64%)
  5. Ohio (64%)
  6. Washington
  7. Arkansas
  8. Florida
  9. Maryland
  10. Pennsylvania
  11. Utah
  12. Tennessee
  13. Delaware
  14. Kansas
  15. Rhode Island
  16. Hawaii
  17. Arizona (47%)
  18. North Dakota (47%)
  19. Idaho
  20. Montana
  21. Maine
  22. Alabama
  23. South Dakota
  24. Minnesota
  25. Georgia (42%)
  26. Wisconsin (42%)
  27. Louisiana (42%)
  28. Missouri (42%)
  29. Connecticut
  30. Oklahoma
  31. Massachusetts
  32. Nevada
  33. Iowa (40%)
  34. Oregon (40%)
  35. North Carolina (37%)
  36. Virginia (37%)
  37. New Jersey
  38. Indiana
  39. Kentucky
  40. Michigan
  41. Colorado
  42. Texas
  43. Wyoming
  44. Nebraska
  45. Alaska
  46. New York
  47. Vermont
  48. California
  49. New Hampshire
  50. West Virginia

Click here to download the full report.

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