California bill threatens to remove exemptions for religious schools

California Sen. Ricardo Lara (centre) is the sponsor of the bill that will strip religious freedom from faith-based colleges and universities(Twitter/Sen. Ricardo Lara)

A California bill that aims to remove Title IX exemptions from religious schools is going to the state Assembly.

SB 1146, sponsored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, was passed by the California Senate.

The bill removes exemptions for religious schools under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity in education programmes that receive federal funding.

It will mandate schools to disclose their Title IX exemptions to prospective faculty, students and employees.

Once approved and signed into law, the measure will force religious colleges and universities to abandon their religious beliefs and hire homosexuals, Life Site News reported.

California's assembly committee on appropriations warned that "given the consequences to the institutions that could be impacted by this bill and the legal issues raised by this bill, the probability of litigation against the state appears fairly high."

"The state could therefore incur significant legal costs, at least in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars," it said.

Patti Colstons of the California Student Aid Commission said the measure would open the door for lawsuits against religious schools from students and employees.

"A postsecondary educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization and that receives financial assistance from the state or enrolls students who receive state financial assistance is subject to Section 11135, and violation of that section may be enforced by a private right of action," the measure reads.

Under the bill, only seminaries will be exempted.

Dr. Kurt Krueger, president of Concordia University Irvine, said the bill "would significantly challenge Concordia University Irvine's—and all Christian colleges and universities in California—ability to continue offering a Christ-centered education to our students."

"The most troubling provision of this bill limits the religious liberty to integrate faith and learning throughout the educational experience," he said. "The bill effectively eliminates the religious exemption under current law that allows religious colleges and universities of all faiths—Lutheran, Buddhist, Catholic, Evangelical, Jesuit, Jewish, Muslim, and Roman Catholic—to operate in accordance with their beliefs, including the freedom to hire only Christian faculty and staff."

Krueger said it would disquality students attending faith-based Christian colleges and universities in California from Cal Grants, a student aid programme.

Matthew Staver of the Liberty Counsel warned that "this recent attempt to force Christian colleges to promote sin by employing those who openly defy their Christian faith and mission is reminiscent of atheistic regimes that tried to stamp out Christianity."

He accused California of leading the charge of secular states against Christianity.