In current deliberation among California legislators is Senate Bill 1146. I am gravely disturbed by this bill that strikes a direct blow to religious liberty and severely infringes on personal freedoms and the freedoms of Christian institutions in California.
The so-called “Equity in Higher Education Act” is designed to erode the free exercise of religion given us in both the United States Constitution and the California Constitution, by limiting the involvement of colleges to have students, faculty, and employees live according to the dictates of God’s Word.
This bill reads, in part,
“Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, including the perception that the person has any of those characteristics or that the person is associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics.”
West Coast Baptist College is staunchly opposed to this bill that erodes religious liberty and opens the door for the state to impede our purpose of “training laborers for the harvest.”
As Bible-believing Christians, we believe that every person is made in the image of God and is thus worthy of and should be treated with respect. We welcome students of all nationalities, ethnicities, and backgrounds. We cannot, however, change our biblical convictions regarding morality and adherence to a biblical moral code.
SB1146 purports to protect against discrimination. This bill, however, is a form of discrimination against religious liberty itself. In the words of Senator John Moorlach, “Restricting private institutions from adhering to its religious beliefs is a violation of their First Amendment rights and an act itself of intolerance.”
The Constitution prohibits laws which impede religious and biblically-held beliefs. Christian colleges for hundreds of years, have had biblically-based codes of conduct prohibiting extra-marital sex and other activities prohibited by Scripture.
Not only would this bill impact an institution’s ability to hire or retain staff and accept students based on faith-based practices and morality, but it would impact students themselves who wish to seek education at an institution that aligns with their beliefs. If passed as law, this bill would reach into the dorms, locker rooms, restrooms, and even the academic and spiritual programs of institutions. The bill also creates a system whereby faith-based institutions must report their beliefs before the state, in essence, for approval.
Although West Coast Baptist College receives no funds from the state of California, we adamantly stand in opposition to SB1146 as a gross overreach of government and a direct violation of religious liberty and personal freedoms. We ask you to help us stop this bill as well.