This first year of RLS measures the presence or lack of each of 11 safeguards in each state. States differ greatly, as reflected in the range of RLS scores (as percentages of an ideal) across the 50 states, from 16% of potential safeguards to 82%.

To maintain objectivity, RLS does not start with a predetermined list of religiously significant topic areas. We look to the states to indicate where laws are relevant for religious liberty. Where one state grants an exemption, for instance, to those with sincere religious belief, we identify a potential safeguard and turn to the remaining states to determine whether they are implementing a similar safeguard.

Read more about our methodology, or choose a safeguard below to explore which states are protecting religious exercise in these domains and how they are doing it.