Hispanics and Christians have spoken out against SB 1146, a bill that threatens to restrict religious freedom in faith-based universities in California.
On Tuesday, Hispanic advocacy groups released a letter denouncing SB 1146, which could lead to legal action against colleges and universities adhering to Biblical principles of sexuality and marriage. The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference said the California bill would put an end to religious education in the state, Washington Times reports.
SB 1146 aims to prevent state-funded colleges and universities from enforcing policies that reflect their religious belief about sexual identity. These policies include those that confine marriage within male-female relationships.
“At a minimum, if passed, this bill would substantially interfere with the ability of California’s faith-based colleges and universities to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their beliefs,” the Hispanic groups said in the letter. “This bill would make religious institutions vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits and unprecedented government policing. It is not inconceivable that this bill could in effect eliminate faith-based higher education entirely.”
For state Sen. Ricardo Lara, SB 1146 will “close a loophole” in the law which gives religious entities the license to discriminate. The senator, who introduced the said bill, explained in a press release that the legislation aims to protect students, especially those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community, against those who use faith to discriminate against others.
Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism executive director Ed Stetzer said SB 1146 could destroy faith-based colleges and universities’ ability to exercise their purpose. Fresno Pacific University president Richard Kriegbaum echoed this sentiment, saying the bill would impose severe restrictions on their religious freedom under the First Amendment, Christianity Today relays.
Despite the criticism that has met SB 1146, a revised version of the proposal was passed by a legislative committee last week. The California bill is set to reach the last approval stages in a few weeks.