Calif. Bill Violates Religious Freedom on Campus

RCB 20130826 MENTOR 0052

The overall assumption of SB 1146 is that it protects gay, lesbian and transgender students against discrimination at private Christian universities. However, this overlooks the devastating impact on constitutional freedoms. Tens of thousands of students in California, many of them first-generation and people of various nationalities, will potentially have their college choice limited.

SB 1146 seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California to only those schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This effectively eliminates the religious liberty of all universities that integrate spiritual life with their entire educational experience.

Prayer, chapel services, spiritual groups and public service are all integral parts of the experience on faith-based campuses. In the name of transparency, the bill opens up the pathway for harassment lawsuits.

Students choose to attend faith-based universities because they find a place of safety and freedom. The universities provide residential facilities that are clearly delineated by gender and supported by a caring staff.

We work hard at providing students a diverse, respectful, safe and challenging environment to learn and prepare for life. The passage of SB 1146 would destroy that time-honored foundation and undercut the very fabric of higher education, which advocates for freedom of opinion and discourse.

William Jessup University and other faith-based universities in the state continue to urge reasonable dialogue and implore political and educational leaders to join with all Californians in creating an environment where grace, kindness and civil discourse can coexist with strong sentiment on matters of great importance.

Via John Jackson, president of William Jessup University in Rocklin, CA