From Christianity Today:
A day after religious leaders released an open letter calling on California to protect religious liberty in higher education, the lawmaker behind a controversial bill dropped the proposal in question, allowing religious schools to keep exemptions to anti-discrimination laws related to sexuality.
Under state Senator Ricardo Lara’s amended bill, schools must “disclose if they have an exemption and report to the state when students are expelled for violating morality codes,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
“HUGE NEWS! Sponsor of #SB1146 is amending bill to keep exemptions in place,”tweeted Andrew Walker, director of policy studies at the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). “#SB1146 is still bad, because it has the disclosure (public shaming) element, but this, for now, is good.”
As usual, the root of this problem isn’t found in bigotry, as the media would have you believe. The root of this problem is government.
As I always maintain on this site, private entities should have the right to admit (or not admit) anyone for any reason, no matter how despicable some might find that reason. That’s what liberty is: Non coercion. As long as no one’s rights are violated directly, people should have the right to choose with whom they enter into contracts.
Here’s the problem (and why it’s become a legal issue): The vast majority of colleges and universities receive some form of government money and public government entities must not and cannot discriminate. So once a private university takes public funding, does it become a public entity that surrenders it’s God-given, Constitutional rights? No. Of course not. I’ve written about this topic recently in regards to religious liberty in Iowa:
No private organization should receive public funds. We need to stop mixing public and private entities. This is how corruption happens.
This is often how progressives get their foot in the door with their unpopular issues. They entice companies, individuals and organizations with public money, but that money always comes with strings attached.
We need to decide once-and-for-all if private organizations lose their Constitutional rights if they receive taxpayer money. I think this is nonsense, of course. But that’s the logic used here. If you receive public money, you become a “public” institution and the government gets to decide what your rights are. As an aside, does this logic apply to people with EBT cards?
A taxpayer who receives money from the government after they have paid into the system (like all the members of a religious organization) isn’t exactly on the government dole. Their money was taken from them and they’re simply getting some of it back.
Even if you agree with the logic of what the government is doing here, you must recognize that when the government hands out money to private organizations, if one organization refuses it, it puts that organization at a disadvantage compared with those around them. And if they refuse, their tax dollars are used to fund everyone around them but themselves. At least this should be acknowledged.
Personally, although I am very religious, I am not a huge fan of the term “religious liberty.” Not that I don’t think that it should exist (obviously), but because, in my understanding, liberty applies to the religious and non-religious equally. Colleges with more atheist leanings should be able to admit or reject whom they will as well. The concept is simple: Allow people (and organizations run by people) to be free and make their own private decisions even if you think what they are doing is morally or ethically wrong.