Meanwhile off the Presidential campaign trail, the California legislature continues to prove it is controlled by people who will not stand for any dissenting opinions even from religious colleges. Recently the State Senate passed SB 1146 (Lara – D) the so called Equity in Higher Education Act (at the time of this post, SB 1146 is pending in the Assembly). This bill vastly trims down exemptions from anti-discrimination laws for private religious colleges from, among other things, the LGBT agenda. In other words, a religious college cannot require students and employees to adhere to a code of conduct that is in conformity with its faith based belief system unless that school is only a seminary preparing students to be ministers. While this law is currently tied to Cal. Grant funds, the real issue is the heavy hand of government attempting to stamp out any dissenting opinions or beliefs. Constitutional protections like Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Assembly, etc.? Nope those are all subservient to the demands of liberal elite’s to agree with their viewpoints – which in this instance is the LGBT agenda and practices.
Andrew T. Walker of the National Review has an excellent article on this: California’s Culture War against Religious Liberty
Here is an excerpt:
“Tacked onto existing law, the proposed amendment to the state’s Equity in Higher Education Act attempts to stigmatize and coercively punish any religious belief system that might dare to offer a difference of opinion about sexuality and gender. The bill strong-arms religious schools into an untenable position: Either compromise their religious identity or risk losing access to grants and government-backed financial assistance like Cal Grants. How so? According to the legislation, any religious school that made admission decisions or laid out student-conduct expectations based on religious criteria that were at odds with the bill’s protected classes would risk losing access to state funds unless they affirmed the highly contestable categories of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” – categories at odds with views about marriage and sexuality in many religious traditions.”
I commend the rest of Mr. Walker’s article to your reading. Another very good and short read on the implications of SB 1146 is by John Gerardi of California Family Council (See Update).
There is an argument that Christian schools should not take Cal. Grants and other government monies. There are two problems with this argument. First if our tax dollars can go to schools that the government says it approves of its message but not those that do not, that is viewpoint discrimination by a government entity. Plus that is forced public funding of one viewpoint over another. Another problem with this argument is it is a ruse. Today it is the application of this law to schools that accept Cal. Grant and similar college funding programs. Tomorrow it will be to remove their tax exempt status for not conforming to the demanded viewpoint of the legislative majority (in other words the right to exist as a religious institution). And that logic can be applied without pause to churches. No room for dissent allowed and the U.S. and California Constitutional protections for Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Association will be rendered historical footnotes.
Of course, the legislature also goes out of its way to state that the bill does not seek to impair any student’s right to file a lawsuit against the college for discrimination.
Will these Christian colleges and the churches whose pulpits they fill engage the culture and stand against this publically? The colleges are expressing their opposition to the legislature now with the help of organizations like the California Family Council and Pacific Justice Institute. But if Senator Lara (the bill’s author) and his fellow travelers in Sacramento pass SB 1146 and the Governor signs it, will they file lawsuits and organize a referendum campaign to stop it? Will they engage the voters in a healthy debate over the role of religious belief and practice in public life, in education and the proper limits under the U.S. and California Constitutions on a government that tries to dictate belief systems? Or will they just engage real estate agents in Texas to find new locations for their campuses?
I pray it is the former and not a retreat to Texas.