As people of faith, we believe that coming together in protest for justice is a moral act. We know that we are endowed with a voice and a spirit of courage, and that lifting our voices together with common intent for common good is a historic part of every major faith tradition. Just like voting, protest is essential to democracy and progress – that’s why it’s protected in both the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida. Governor DeSantis’ anti-protest bill, House Bill 1/Senate Bill 484, is an affront to our faith and a danger to our democracy.
Legislation that punishes protesters would criminalize free speech and shut down our right to free assembly – regardless of whether protesters are conservative or liberal. Legislation designed to target the organizers of protests would make it nearly impossible for the faith community to fulfill its historic role as a champion of those people society would cast aside--we would be forced to either abandon our calling to do justice and love mercy or risk being branded as criminals.
As faith leaders seeking a better, more just future for our communities, we call on Florida’s legislators to exercise their moral courage and reject this dangerous bill outright.