TAKE ACTION: Tell your state rep to oppose bill favoring religious nonprofits


The California Assembly is considering a bill that unconstitutionally favors churches and religious nonprofits over secular nonprofits. Please take a moment to tell your representative to oppose this bill in its current form.

The bill, S.B. 899, would allow religious nonprofits to turn their land into low-income housing without going through environmental impact reviews and other regulations normally required for such a project. However, secular nonprofits are not offered the same streamlined process unless they are an “independent institution of higher education.” Giving legal preference to religious nonprofits over secular nonprofits violates the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and the “No Preference” clause of the California Constitution.

S.B. 899 also lacks anti-discrimination provisions to protect those who eventually live in church-owned low-income housing. The state can and should require that any nonprofit taking advantage of this provision abide by anti-discrimination laws, including assurances that churches, as landlords, will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

While it is commendable for California to incentivize nonprofits to utilize their extra land to provide much-needed low-income housing, it must do so in a way that does not give unconstitutional preference to religion over nonreligion, or allow for state-sanctioned discrimination.

Please use our automated system to contact your representative and ask them to oppose S.B. 899 unless it is amended to fix these two flaws. You can use our suggested wording below, but for better impact you should write your own message. For maximum effect, follow up your email with a phone call to your representative on this important matter.


Freedom From Religion Foundation

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