Pro-LGBTQ Bill Targets Private Schools in CA

ca state houseDemocratic lawmakers in the state of California are promoting a new bill that will prevent Christian colleges and universities from requiring students to attend chapel services or to profess a relationship with Jesus Christ out of respect for LGBTQ students.

Fox News’ Todd Starnes is reporting on Senate Bill 1146 which lawmakers say will close a loophole that allows Christian universities to “discriminate” against students based on their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

“All students deserve to feel safe in institutions of higher education, regardless of whether they are public or private,” said Senator Ricardo Lara, the author of the legislation. “California has established strong protections for the LGBTQ community and private universities should not be able to use faith as an excuse to discriminate and avoid complying with state laws.”

The legislation, which has already passed the Senate and is expected to do so in the Assembly, offers no compromise to the state’s Christian institutions of higher learning. The only schools to qualify for an exemption would be those institutions in the business of preparing students for pastoral ministry.

John Jackson, president of William Jessup University, called the proposed legislation chilling.

“The passage of this bill would destroy the foundation upon which this university was founded,” said Jackson. “Systematically discriminating against religious institutions and preventing student access and choice to Christian higher education is bad policy and will have a negative effect on the state of California.”

Lee Wilhite, vice president of university communications at Biola University, an institution that integrates the Bible through all of their courses, says the impact of the proposed legislation would be devastating.

“It functionally eliminates the religious liberty of all California faith-based universities,” Wilhite told Fox. “It really does infringe on how we carry out our mission.”

For example, he said, “We would no longer be able to require a profession of faith for students. That’s something Biola requires of all incoming students.”

Nor would schools be permitted to integrate faith throughout their teaching curriculum, he added.

“The danger for Biola University is that it prevents us from carrying out our mission the way we have for 108 years,” Wilhite said. “It would eliminate our ability to continue our mission. That’s why it has our attention.”

If passed, the law would give students a right to sue if — for example — they were offended by a prayer in class.

School administrators are working with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities to urge Lara to amend his bill to include a religious exemption.

However, if the law passes, several of the universities told Fox they would stand their ground even if that meant taking the case all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

“We are not willing to change our policies,” Jackson said. “There is a very intentional attempt to marginalize those who don’t accept the notions of sexual orientation and gender identity as the government has framed them.”

Even more threatening is the fact that what happens in California could eventually happen in other parts of the country.

“Religious freedoms are in play in California,” Jackson told Fox. “Ultimately, I’m concerned that what begins in California rolls across the nation.”

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