August 22, 2016
Dear Friend of Religious Freedom:
While the RFI focuses much of its attention on threats to religious freedom abroad, it is also important to recognize the threats to our religious liberty here at home.
Recently California lawmakers introduced a measure (SB 1146) that was both an assault on religious liberty and deeply harmful to economically disadvantaged and minority students who attend religious schools. While claiming to eliminate religious discrimination, the law would have introduced new state-enforced discrimination by coercing religious schools to accept principles of human sexuality that utterly contradict their own religiously inspired moral teachings.
This draconian law would have effectively gutted the character of religiously affiliated educational institutions in California. Given the rich history of religious education, including its contribution to the poor and marginalized, passage of the law would have constituted a blow to American civil society. It would also have been a direct attack on religious freedom and the First Amendment. If parents are to be prevented from sending their children to schools that reinforce the moral teachings of their faith, America will have abandoned something central to its character as a nation.
RFI is proud to have worked with allies like those at the Becket Fund, who masterfully demonstrated how this law was both harmful and discriminatory, and the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, who led the charge on a multi-faith letter of support signed by RFI leadership. We also met with members of Congress here in Washington, providing counsel on how these actions erode America’s fundamental freedoms.
Thankfully, in a victory for religious freedom for all Americans, this measure was defeated and the crisis was averted for now.
We applaud this victory and salute all those who fought for it, especially those on the front lines in California such as university presidents, faith leaders, and legal advocates.
This is the kind of event that demonstrates the need for the RFI as an international organization monitoring and acting on infringements of religious freedom, the precious right of everyone, everywhere.
While religious freedom carried the day in this instance, the real story is that this is just a skirmish in a widening conflict. We take encouragement from this result, but it only steels us for what is to come.
Thanks to your ongoing support, we are ready.
Religious Freedom Institute