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California Christian Higher Education: Religious Liberty vs. Sexual Liberty

JUNE 3, 2016

Religious liberty appears to be on the chopping block in California.  Two bills, targeting California's religious colleges and universities for legislative destruction, have been quietly working their way through the halls of the State Capital. 
They accomplish liberty-stripping goals by first, blocking student aid at private Christian higher education institutions, and second, opening the floodgates of of financially crippling litigation, giving liberal judges the power to control internal religiously rooted student and personnel policies.  

California's assault started several years ago when the State adopted Education Code #66250 which mandated colleges and universities not discriminate on the basis of "gender expression" and "sexual orientation."  However, as is true with similar federal laws, California's religious colleges could claim a broader institutional exemption if the application of the law was not consistent with the religious tenets of the organizations.  I am keenly aware of this religious exemption having served as the President of Simpson University in Redding, CA from 2006-2013.  Simpson, along with a number of other institutions, received a Title IX waiver from the U.S. Department of Education.

In early 2016, AB 1888 was introduced.  This legislation seeks to cut off state and federal funding of Christian colleges and universities by requiring all institutions participating in the Cal Grant program to certify they will not discriminate with regards to students and employees on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.  It would also prohibit current Title IX waivers from the the U.S. Department of Education if the institution participates in the Cal Grant program.

SB 1146, following closely on the heels of AB 1888, has the potential of making it very difficult for Christian colleges and universities, even if they opt out of federal and state financial aid.  SB 1146 coerces faith-based institutions to choose between keeping their financial aid and abandoning their religiously rooted student and personnel policies.

This attempt to cut off state and federal funding to Christian institutions, granting the right to sue and financially cripple institutions, and obtain injunctions to curb "discriminating" religious decisions may be the beginning of the end for Christ-centered colleges and universities.

These bills are another example of sexual liberty challenging religious liberty and are a direct threat to Christian higher education institutions, attempting to force them to embrace the LGBT agenda, even if it contradicts sincerely held religious beliefs and rights of conscience.

Larry J. McKinney
Higher Education Consultant 
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