Breaking News: After the radio broadcast mentioned below was aired, the news media has reported that the sponsor of California SB 1146 has decided to – for now – drop the controversial language that threatened Christian colleges in California. The following are Jim’s thoughts on the California situation before the latest news, which are still important for understanding the ongoing threat to Christian education that such laws present.
If you’re not already aware, I want you to know about something taking place in California right now.
At risk are the First Amendment religious liberties of Christian colleges throughout the state and, ultimately, universities across the nation.
Senate Bill 1146 was originally framed as a bill to increase transparency between religious institutions and the public. The school’s policies about sexual orientation and gender identity would be clear.
But that original bill has been amended six times. In its current form, SB1146 jeopardizes the future of institutions of higher education and their ability to educate young people in the faith along with their vocational training.
Supporters of this current version of the bill believe Christian higher education uses religion as a loophole to “discriminate.” They don’t understand, or refuse to recognize, the deep and lasting religious convictions that are infused into everything faith-based organizations do – from curriculum, to hiring, to standards of conduct, to the institution’s very reason for existing.
If passed, Christian colleges in California would be required to forfeit their constitutionally protected religious freedoms that allow them to operate according to biblical standards. If they refuse, state funding will be revoked, which would place a tremendous burden on the schools and the students – a large percentage of whom are minorities – who depend on those resources to pursue their higher education.
This latest infringement on religious liberty is no surprise. I was present in the Supreme Court barely a year ago when the Obergefell case was being argued, the landmark decision that ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states. Justice Alito and the late Justice Scalia zeroed in on the core problem when they argued that states can’t allow same-sex marriage without discriminating against religious freedom, a constitutionally guaranteed freedom for well over 200 years.
Those two worldviews will collide.
Well, they’re colliding right now, and colleges and universities are at the tip of the spear in that debate.
It’s imperative that Christians take a stand for religious freedom.
I recorded a phone conversation with two college presidents from Southern California who are at the forefront of this important matter. Dr. Barry Corey has been the president of Biola University since 2007 and is the vice-chair of the board of directors for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Dr. Jon Wallace has been president of Azusa Pacific University since 2000 and has been involved in higher education for more than 30 years.
We aired that discussion on our broadcast yesterday. If you missed it, I urge you to take a few minutes and listen online to “Protecting Religious Freedoms at College” or via our free, downloadable mobile phone app. We’ll fully discuss the bill and its implications not only in California but across the nation, and help you know how you can respond.