Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant received the inaugural Samuel Adams Religious Freedom Award for standing firm in defending religious liberty over business interest, and the lobby by advocacy groups.
The Family Research Council (FRC) considered Bryant's trait very rare amid the increasing pressure to disregard conservative values, because of laws he enacted protecting religious liberty.
FRC President Tony Perkins said Gov. Bryant has been the constant target by those who wanted to advance a radical social agenda, but still he remained firm and unequivocal about religious freedom in Mississippi.
"Our nation is in need of men of devotion, Christian statesmen who have the will to passionately defend private property and religious freedom as the very foundation of a free and prosperous society," Perkins said.
Among Bryant enacted laws were Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, which gained support from a group of Baptist pastors.
It provides protection for those who refuses to extend services for same-sex weddings, and state employees uncomfortable issuing the same-sex marriage licenses.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 2014 also keeps the government from restricting the free exercise of religion.
The joint letter by a group of pastors hailed the laws as a guarantee to every citizen of their right to believe and practice their faith in a way that does not violate their deeply held religious belief.