California’s legislature is presently considering Senate Bill 1146, a piece of proposed legislation that critics fear will drastically curb the religious freedom of private academic institutions.
The statement, titled “Protecting the future of religious higher education,” was published on the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s website Tuesday and includes signatories from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish backgrounds.
The statement denounces SB 1146 as “harmful to the free exercise of religion in higher education” and if enacted “would severely restrict the ability of religious education institutions to set expectations of belief and conduct that align with the institution’s religious tenets.”
“This legislation puts into principle that majoritarian beliefs are more deserving of legal protection, and that minority viewpoints are deserving of government harassment,” reads the statement.
“Legislation of this nature threatens the integrity not only of religious institutions, but of any viewpoint wishing to exercise basic American freedoms, not least of which is the freedom of conscience.”
The statement stressed that the signatories “do not necessarily agree with one another’s religious views, but we agree on the necessity of the liberty to exercise these views.”
“Some of us disagree with the sexual ethics of orthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims giving rise to this legislation, but we are unified in our resistance to the government setting up its own system of orthodoxy,” continued the letter.
“Where the state can encroach on one religion’s free exercise, it can just as easily trample on any other religion’s free exercise. We therefore join in solidarity across religious lines to speak against Senate Bill 1146.”
Signatories to the statement include ERLC President Russell Moore, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, Biola University President Barry Corey, Zaytuna College President Hamza Yusuf Hanson, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University, former U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf of Virginia, and Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington Area.