California Lawmaker Drops Controversial Proposal to Regulate Religious Colleges |

TBC Staff - EN


A day after religious leaders released an open letter calling on California to protect religious liberty in higher education, the lawmaker behind a controversial bill dropped the proposal in question, allowing religious schools to keep exemptions to anti-discrimination laws related to sexuality.

Under state Senator Ricardo Lara’s amended bill, schools must “disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“HUGE NEWS! Sponsor of #SB1146 is amending bill to keep exemptions in place,” tweeted Andrew Walker, director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “#SB1146 is still bad, because it has the disclosure (public shaming) element, but this, for now, is good.”

“Sighs of relief and prayers of gratitude that California #SB1146 bill (restricting religious liberty of colleges) has been dropped,” tweeted National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) president Leith Anderson.

Earlier versions of Senate Bill 1146 would have prevented colleges that received state funds from enforcing codes of student conduct reflecting a college’s religious beliefs about sexual identity, including teaching that marriage is between a man and woman and limiting bathrooms to biological gender. Traditionally, California’s religious schools have received a religious exemption from non-discrimination laws. This bill would have limited it to students who were preparing for a religious career, such as ministry.

Biola University president Barry Corey and Azusa Pacific University president Jon Wallace spoke out against the proposal throughout the summer. “It would be a step backwards if California, a state that has long been a leader in diversity, inclusion and pluralism, could not find a way to value and honor the religious freedom of Christian universities like Biola while at the same time respecting the dignity of our students,” Corey said.

CT explained the bill and its consequences, which included potentially barring standards of belief and conduct for faculty also. The bill could have prevented colleges from giving preferential admission to students in its denomination or faith.

To hold to its faith standards, a school would have had to deny taking state money, including the state’s “Cal Grants” for bright students from lower-income families. Last school year, 40 of the 321 colleges in California that were eligible for Cal Grants had policies the bill would prevent, like requiring biological bathroom use or preventing same-sex relationships.

“The goal for me has always been to shed the light on the appalling and unacceptable discrimination against LGBT students at these private religious institutions throughout California,” said Lara, according to the Times.

(Zylstra, "California Lawmaker Drops Controversial Proposal to Regulate Religious Colleges," ChristianityToday Online, 8/10/2016).

[TBC: Scripture tells us to "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (2 Corinthians:6:14-16). Christian colleges should know that a temporary setback for these legislators will not remove the pressure to conform to the world. As long as Christian Colleges hitch their wagons to the secular state, they will continue to conform to the ways of the world.]