Christian schools are feeling threatened by Democrats and their sinister plan to alter the very foundation on which they stand. California Democrats have proposed Senate Bill 1146, which would change what they call the option to discriminate against students based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. The bill could even go so far as to suspend the rights of Christian colleges and universities to require students to attend chapel services or profess a relationship with Jesus Christ, both of which are terms that students are well aware of when they apply for admission. Fox News reports that the legislation has already passed the Senate and is expected to pass Assembly as well. Senator Ricardo Lara authored the legislation.
“All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private. California has established strong protections for the LGBT community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws.”
Senator Lara goes on to say that the Democrats’ legislation only plans to exempt schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry. He refuses to compromise with any of California’s Christian colleges and universities. John Jackson, the president of William Jessup University in Sacramento, called the threatening legislation chilling.
“It discriminates against religious colleges. If we don’t play ball with state – the state will attempt to drive us out of existence.”
Jackson also said the bill would destroy the principles upon which the university was founded. The Democrats’ plans would, in his opinion, “prevent student access and choice to Christian higher education,” calling it “bad policy” that will have a negative impact on the state of California. Biola University’s vice president of university communications, Lee Wilhite, agrees with Jackson, saying that they, too, are concerned with the implications of this legislation that could threaten their campuses.
“It functionally eliminates the religious liberty of all California faith-based universities. It really does infringe on how we carry out our mission.”
Like most Christian schools, Biola integrates Bible teaching throughout all of their courses, a practice in place for over 100 years. He says if the loophole is closed through specific plans of the Democrats’ proposed bill, they would no longer be able to require a profession of faith for students, something they require of all students. Proponents say a profession of faith shouldn’t be required from any college, regardless of whether it’s a public or private school. Critics of the bill, who feel students are legitimately threatened by it, say that applicants to Christian universities are aware of the requirements and have chosen these schools so that they can carry out plans for their educational goals alongside other like-minded Christians. Those that disagree, they argue, can easily apply elsewhere to colleges that have different requirements and learning environments that are better suited to their personal beliefs.
SB 1146 would significantly limit the number of California institutes of higher learning that are able to claim exemptions from federal Title IX anti-discrimination law. The Obama administration has stressed in recent years that they interpret Title IX exemptions as applying specifically to “gender identity” and sexual orientation, says a report by Life Site News. Christian colleges that have traditionally believed in Biblical sexual morality would be seriously threatened and compromised by Democrats’ plans for passage of this bill.
In the California Equity in Higher Education Act, faith-based schools have religious exemptions that allow them freedoms to carry out their faith-based programs without their financial aid options being threatened, says a report by the Christian Times. The Democrats’ plans mean that schools would no longer be allowed to integrate their faith, based on Biblical principles, in their curriculum plans. Leaders at three universities said they wouldn’t be allowed to require mandatory chapel attendance, a practice that they feel creates an atmosphere of fellowship among their student bodies. The bill’s plans would also prohibit them from mandating core units of Bible courses. Wilhite says the passage of this bill would seriously damage their mission. The proposed legislation also gives students a right to sue if they’re offended by anything, such as prayer in the classroom. Both Biola and William Jessup deny that LGBT students are discriminated against at their universities. Wilhite said they don’t tolerate bullying of any type against any of their students.
Many of these schools are working with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities, urging Senator Lara to amend his bill to include plans for religious exemption. In the California Equity in Higher Education Act, faith-based schools have certain religious exemptions without their participation in the Cal Grant Program being threatened. Concordia University Irvine’s president, Kurt Krueger, is concerned over the possible implications of the Democrats’ bill on financial aid.
“If passed without amendments, the law would also very likely disqualify students attending California Christian colleges and universities from eligibility for Cal Grants, a key state-level student aid program.”
Critics of the proposed bill are concerned that the plan attempts to marginalize those who don’t accept the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity the way the government has defined them. They also worry that if this bill passes in California, other states will follow. Ultimately, Christian schools feel threatened by what they consider a sinister plan by Democrats to limit the rules and principles promoted on their campuses.
Do you think colleges that clearly state their Christian beliefs should be able to establish their own concepts and teaching plans that support Biblical teaching? Please weigh in on the comments section below.
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