Update to SB-1146 Legislation: SB-1146 Dropped

Earlier this week, I posted about California senate bill SB-1146. As of Friday, August 12th, 2016, I am pleased to announce that California lawmakers have decided to drop California the bill. The bill would have restricted state funding for religious schools due to their religious convictions. A full report on the issue can be found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/august/california-drops-controversial-bill-to-regulate-religious.html. In a conversation with Biola professor of politics Dr. Scott Waller, I was reminded, however, that this is only a temporary respite. The move to drop the bill appears to have been financially motivated.

One may anticipate that California Senator Ricardo Lana will take up this issue again at some point in the future. When and if such a time occurs, it is imperative that Christians nationwide stand with our California Christian colleagues and speak out against any legislation that impedes religious expression and religious freedom. For those on the east coast, California legislation may seem unimportant to them. However, history has shown that legislation in larger areas, such as California, often influences national legislation and the legislation of other states. Thus, the church must stand together in opposing any move to impede religious freedom.

Conservative political analyst Todd Starnes noted on his social media video that he was shocked that more voices were not heard speaking out against the bill. In his words, “we were almost too late.” For religious Americans who value their liberty to worship and live according to their viewpoints, and even those who are not religious and value individual expression, SB-1146 was a shot across the bow, warning us to stand ready. This is not a time for cowardice. It is a time for bravery and courage. If we fail to stand up for religious freedoms today, our children and grandchildren may not enjoy such freedoms tomorrow.

Copyright, August 12, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Corrective Note: I was informed of a correction that needs to be made to the post. The bill itself has not been dropped, but rather the more controversial language concerning the religious freedom of universities has been erased from the bill. The bill still holds issues that is of concern to many California Christians. While we can be thankful that the language restricting religious freedoms pertaining to higher education has been modified, we still need to pray that when the bill is overturned August 31st when it comes to a vote.

I would like to thank Pastor Donald Shoemaker, Pastor Emeritus of Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, California for the correction. 

(8/12/16, 8:40 pm ET).

 

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Why California SB-1146 Should Matter to Non-California Residents

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?

Conclusion

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.

King Dethroned

This past week, I was disturbed to hear about the defeat of what has been a 3-year battle for the religious right of expression. King, North Carolina may not be a town that is familiar to many of our readers. However, it has been the epicenter of an intense battle over religious expression. King, a small town just north of Winston-Salem was challenged by one Michael Hewett. Hewett, a U. S. Army veteran was offended that the town allowed Christian flags to fly in a local cemetery and had also allowed the presence of a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross. Hewett challenged the town’s right to allow these Christian symbols. Powered by a secularist agency, Hewett sued the township. But here is the most troubling problem of the whole affair: the township decided to surrender their case due to financial issues. The council members were advised that they could not win the case, so the community was wasting money in the case. It is reported that the case could accrue a hefty price tag of $2 million. Thus, to the great disdain of the community, the council members voted 3-2 in favor of settling the case and thus remove the flag and statue. But I have a few thoughts concerning this case.

christian_flag

What is so offensive?

The first question I hold is to Michael Hewett. What is so offensive about the Christian flag? What is it about a flag white flag, bearing a blue square and a red cross that you find so offensive? This flag does not degrade you in any way, shape, or form. This flag, unlike some secularist symbols, does not seek to make anyone feel ignorant. If you are an atheist, then the flag means nothing to you. As far as the statue, it was provided by private donations. If you had a statue you wanted to present, why not present your statue instead of bullying the city into action against the majority of the citizens who approved the statue? I feel that Hewett’s lawsuit is a microcosm of something bigger going on in our world, especially in the United States. That is, tolerance has been replaced by militancy that is leading this land down to road toward socialism. It is easy to point fingers and issue blame. But, the bottom line is that this land is undergoing a moral shift. Unfortunately by the time the story of the United States is complete, it may be that the United States of America may be comprised of the Socialist States of America unless there is a drastic change in the hearts and minds of the American people.

What happens now?

Another question that presents itself is this; what happens now? Will the people of King accept this ruling? Will the people seek the council of the fighters of religious liberty like those of the ACLJ and other such organizations? The final outcome essentially finds itself with the Christian citizens of King.

Conclusion

So much could be said about this issue. In fact, the lack of tolerance and the lawsuit happy nature of the populace is not uniting the nation, but rather dividing it. Are we coming to a point in time where religious expression is a criminal act? What will solve this divide? In fact, America is following a path that can be seen throughout history and especially in the Old Testament. America is becoming more and more secularized, which is a fancy way of saying that America is turning its back on God. However, history has demonstrated what happens when such a turn is taken. America will find itself in trouble and will need divine assistance. Then, God will show up and deliver the land. Revival will break out and the hearts of individuals will turn to God once again and the land will be transformed. Or another scenario is that the nation will continue to rebel and will find itself desolate. The answer to these problems is found in God. It may be that the land has to reach “rock bottom” before it sees the “heavenly heights” of God’s glory. King, North Carolina may have been dethroned in their fight for the freedom of religious expression, but King’s faithful Christian citizens serve the King of Kings who will never be dethroned.

 

Praying for the citizens of King while serving THE KING,

 

Pastor Brian

 

Copyright. Pastor Brian Chilton. 2015.

 

For more information, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2906238/North-Carolina-city-removes-display-soldier-kneeling-cross-sued-Army-veteran.html and http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/01/11/north-carolina-city-removes-sculpture-soldier-kneeling-before-cross/