FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA — This November, voters could change the state constitution to include a religious freedom amendment.

If passed, Issue 3 would prohibit state and local governments from burdening the practice of religion unless the government shows there is a compelling reason to do so; a move Democrats say is unnecessary.

“Bottom line is that the first amendment of the constitution is pretty plain spoken and doesn’t need much help,” Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Grant Tennille said.

But the sponsor of the constitutional amendment, State Sen. Jason Rapert says COVID-19 vaccine mandates show the need for issue 3.

“Many people lost their jobs. They were fired and told they would not honor their religious exemptions. That means that what we have on the books now did not protect them,” Rapert said.

What gives the Democratic Party pause is that the amendment would provide a legal claim in court for a person to seek relief against the government for imposing on their religious freedom. Tennille says this could give protection to someone who claims to commit murder in the name of God.

“If you weaponize religious freedom in this country, then no one is subject to the law because they can use a religious justification for almost anything that they want to do,” he said.

But Sen. Rapert says that fear is unwarranted.

“That’s when the government already has the ability to discern when somebody is breaking a law that applies to everybody as opposed to a valid religious exemption or a valid claim,” he said.

To read the full text of the amendment, click here.