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Reprieve for California’s Christian Colleges

By August 16, 2016California
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Thank you for your faithful prayer and action! We are pleased to report that SB 1146 has been amended into a less threatening bill, but the amended language is still problematic unless further amended.

What was removed? The most devastating portions that would have forced schools to abandon their Biblical tenets and pervasively Christian environments if they were to accept lower-income students using Cal Grants were removed. For example, schools would have been required to base accommodations such as restrooms, locker rooms and dorms on gender identity, rather than biological sex. They would have been forced to offer married housing to same-sex couples. They would have been subject to lawsuits by students who claimed they were discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. We are grateful that these onerous provisions have been removed.

What’s left? The revised SB 1146 is now a series of requirements about disclosure to students and faculty. Generally, schools support full disclosure of their policies with regard to their Biblically-based curriculum and campus life, codes of student conduct and similar policies. Students applying to colleges and universities need to be fully informed as they are making their choices. Schools do not contest this. Some additional provisions were added in these most recent amendments that represent a greater reach by the state. The bill now requires schools to report to the California Student Aid Commission, in detail, the reasons for student expulsion and whether those students received Gal Grants. This is the primary area of concern, and we are praying that the author will accept additional amendments suggested by the schools to remove this portion and make some additional changes.

Our faith-based institutions of higher education support disclosure and student choice. But that choice should not be limited by the state, whether students have financial need or not. As a result of the amendments to SB 1146, for now that choice is still available.

But this is a reprieve – not a victory. We fully anticipate a similar bill to emerge as next year’s legislative session begins in January. We will be watching; we will continue to build a coalition of like-minded public policy groups, churches, faith-based organizations and individuals like you.

What happens now? SB 1146 passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Comm. on August 11. It will now move to the Assembly floor. Amendments must be made by August 19. The bill must then pass the Assembly floor and then return to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the amendments. The last day to pass bills from either house is August 31. Then SB 1146, if passed, will go to Gov. Brown.

What can you do?

Keep asking your assembly member to oppose SB 1146 until additional amendments are confirmed.

Keep praying.

Keep educating those in your sphere of influence about the continuing threat to our religious freedom in general and our faith-based institutions in particular.

Keep talking to your pastors and church leaders so that they will create a plan NOW as to how they will help these fine institutions when the battle begins anew.

Thank you for your faithfulness in praying and acting on behalf of faith, family and freedom!

Kori Peterson
Area Director
CWA of Southern California

Carissa Campbell
Area Director
CWA of Northern California