Recently, I spoke with Dr. Scott Waller. Dr. Waller is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Biola University and is Assistant Professor of Political Science also at Biola. Dr. Waller and I spoke about the newly imposed California state Senate bill, aptly named SB-1146. The bill strips away the standards of religious schools and universities to set sexual expectations for its students and staff, especially as it pertains to same-sex relationships. This is not only a concerning precedent for evangelical schools like Biola University, but also for Roman Catholic schools and the other nearly 50 schools in the state of California that hold to the concept traditional marriage. But, one might ask, “How does this legislation affect individuals outside of California?” Dr. Waller noted, “As goes California, so goes the nation.” The precedent set by SB-1146, if this law is allowed to stand, causes great concern for any religious school in the nation. Dr. Waller is right! If SB-1146 is allowed to stand, other states could implement similar legislation. Furthermore, the federal government could possibly allow for similar legislation nationwide. From my conversation with Dr. Waller and being a non-Californian, I was left with three areas of great concern about the impact of SB-1146 and how it could affect other states if left intact.
SB-1146 Affects Religious Action.
SB-1146 does not force one to believe a certain way. Advocates of the bill will use this as a case for SB-1146. However, the bill does alter the way a person’s belief is set into practice. Beliefs lead to actions. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:21-22, HCSB). In other words, what a person takes in determines what a person will do. Ideas influence actions. The makers of SB-1146 have their own beliefs which led them towards certain actions—namely, the implementation of the bill. However, their beliefs have led them to the conclusion that Christian beliefs cannot lead to actions. But how exactly is this freedom of religion? Freedom of religion entails not only the freedom to believe as one chooses, but also to live as one chooses. Certainly this is the subject of further debate. Nevertheless, a dangerous precedent is set by SB-1146. Essentially, the bill limits the religious actions that institutions can take.
SB-1146 Affects Funding.
Most directly, the bill will affect funding. Schools that do not conform to the edict set by SB-1146 will not be allowed to use state funding, or rather students will not be allowed to use such funding. Poorer students in California will not be allowed to use state funds to attend religious schools like Biola for any type of program. If this legislation goes through, it seems to me that private institutions like churches would need to set aside money for scholarships so that Christian youth could still attend Christian universities. For me, I would like to think that there would be options available so that individuals could still attend schools like Biola. However, SB-1146 would certainly make it more difficult. Suppose legislation like this goes to the federal level, could student loans be influenced to religious schools that do not abide by rulings such as these? I suppose it may be wise for upcoming Christian students to evaluate other means for future funding.
SB-1146 Affects Future Legislation.
For me, the scariest aspect of SB-1146 is the governmental overreach into the area of religious freedoms. There is no doubt that this bill will be challenged. Not to be doom and gloomy, but let’s just suppose that the bill is allowed to stand (which is a possibility). What future legislation possibilities are opened by the existence of this bill? Pandora’s Box will be opened. Just how far will this overreach extend? How far will it go?
Here’s a novel idea: if a person does not like the beliefs or standards of a particular school…then DON’T GO!!! Allow them to be. I am an evangelical Christian. If I do not like the standards of a Buddhist school like say Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado (which I am sure is a fine school), I would choose not to attend instead of forcing the school to conform to my beliefs. It seems to me that there is a lack of maturity in our culture. Many desire to force others into a “politically correct” mold instead of respecting our differences. The glue that unites all the traditions and cultures of the blending pot that is the United States of America is the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion. If that glue is allowed to melt away, the democracy of the land is lost and is replaced by something far different.
What can we do? We must have a voice! We must make our concerns known. For those in California, speak up and speak out! For those outside of California, we as a collective people of faith need to pray that God would help us, protect us, and grant us insight. These are perilous days. We need Christians of character and courage so that future generations can know about the Savior’s love and salvation.
See the site http://www.opposesb1146.com/ for more information.
Listen to my conversation with Dr. Scott Waller at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pastorbrianchilton/2016/08/08/sb1146-and-the-threat-to-california-religious-liberties-w-dr-scott-waller.
© August 8, 2016. Brian Chilton.