Letter: Restore Religious Exemption in MHRA

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February 21, 2024

Hon. Warren Limmer
[email protected]

Hon. Harry Niska
[email protected]

Dear Sen. Limmer and Rep. Niska,

Thank you for authoring S.F. 3848/H.F. 3926, a bill to restore a religious exemption in the Minnesota Human Rights Act for religious organizations (including individual congregations) and religiously affiliated nonpublic schools, and to protect them from claims against discrimination based on gender identity and expression. We were disappointed that the Department of Human Rights declined to include this legislation in their legislative proposals for 2024 and appreciate you stepping in to work with your colleagues to restore this important statutory protection of faith-based organizations and schools. We hope you will work proactively to get this legislation passed.

Questions of gender identity and expression are difficult ones generating much discussion in the culture at large. The undersigned organizations hold diverse theological views and may take different approaches about how to handle these questions as a matter of governance and pastoral care. But they are united by the principle that faith-based organizations should have autonomy in their governance decisions and be able to hire both ministers and teachers consistent with their mission and values. Indeed, such rights are protected by both the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions and should be reflected in the Minnesota Human Rights Act as well. The law should be clear in this regard, and faith-based organizations should be insulated from complaints and litigation related to matters of gender identity.

The Minnesota Human Rights Act is a tool for legislators to draw lines among compelling but sometimes competing interests at the intersection of nondiscrimination law and rights of speech, religion, and association. The pluralism of values protected by the statutory framework on this matter prior to 2023 (and what would be restored by this bill) worked well for 30 years, and can continue to guide a diverse community to live out their differences in an equitable and inclusive manner. Thank you for your support.

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Minnesota North District

The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod Minnesota South District 

Minnesota Catholic Conference

Joint Religious Legislative Coalition

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 

Islamic Center of Minnesota

Association of Christian Schools International

Evangelical Lutheran Synod (Mankato)

Transform MN—the Evangelical Network



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