Evangelical leaders Russell Moore, Rick Warren join interfaith coalition to denounce California Bill

Students walk on the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) campus in Los Angeles, September 18, 2009. | Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Evangelical leaders Russell Moore and Pastor Rick Warren united in an interfaith coalition to denounce the widely criticized California legislation SB 1146, which they deemed as an attack on religious freedom.

Two prominent leaders of the evangelical community joined forces with other Christians, Muslims, and Jewish personalities in condemning the California bill which they deemed "harmful to the free exercise of religion in higher education."

They called on the California Assembly to abandon a legislation that "would severely restrict the ability of religious education institutions to set expectations of belief and conduct that align with the institution's religious tenets."

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) released Tuesday on its website the coalition's joint statement "Protecting the future of religious higher education."

"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," read the statement.

The signatories pointed out that they themselves do not agree on one another's religious views but that they stand unified in resisting the "government harassment" on the free exercise of religion.

Aside from the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's ERLC and the senior pastor of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, signatories also include Barry Corey of the Biola University, Hamza Yusuf Hanson of the Zaytuna College, Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Yeshiva University, Imam Faizul Khan of the Islamic Society of Washington Area, and former U.S. representative Frank Wolf of Virginia.

SB 1146 prohibits state-funded postsecondary education institutions from any acts of discrimination on the basis of specified attributes, including sex. It requires colleges granted the Title IX exemption to disclose its status to students and faculty. Title IX disallows discrimination by the state-funded colleges on the basis of sex.

"All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private," said the bill's proponent and Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara.