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A Time to Write Posted 6.24.2016

I have vowed (personally) that I will attempt to make the church a safe place – safe from the political wrangling swirling around us daily.  Peninsula is about lifting Jesus as king and hope and Lord.  Politics divide. Jesus unites. So we are about Jesus.  In reality, Jesus said He would play a divisive role in families – not churches --- so let’s be all about Him.

 

But this morning there is an issue I’d like to bring up.  Relax, it has nothing to do with the Presidential election or Brexit.  Right now, there is a bill before the California legislature which has passed the Senate and will be considered this week in a committee in the Assembly.  It is a great burden on my heart and if I understand the issues, it is a bill which clearly assaults religious liberty.  If it passes it will substantially interfere with the ability of California’s faith-based universities to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their beliefs.

 

SB 1146, introduced by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), seeks to eliminate the current religious exemption in California that fully protects the freedom of places like Biola University, my alma mater, to operate in a manner consistent with their religious mission and statement of faith. The provisions of the proposed bill represent a dramatic narrowing of religious freedom in California. It would mean schools like Biola or APU or CBU would no longer be able to determine for themselves the scope of their religious convictions as applied in student conduct policies, housing and restroom/locker facilities, and other matters of religious expression and practical campus life. Though the free exercise of religion is guaranteed by both the U.S. and California Constitutions, SB 1146 would make religious institutions like Biola vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits and unprecedented government policing.  The government become the standard, not the Bible.

 

The bill has already passed the Senate (my senator, Benjamin Allen, voted “yes”).  It is up now before the Assembly (my assembly member is David Hadley).  Listen to Biola President, Dr. Barry Corey, “Faith-based institutions of higher education are making profound contributions to the intellectual and common good of society, contributions not in spite of but because of our deeply held faith convictions. Our presence in society enriches it rather than diminishes it. We provide economic vitality to our communities. Our graduates leave with servant-leader hearts. Our focus on ethics and integrity is inherent to all our programs. A disproportionate number of our graduates seek careers in public service or non-profit organizations. Why would California want to harm institutions like this?”

 

The issue for Christian universities will be the discrimination lawsuits which follow.  And they will.  They will most likely wind their way to the Supreme Court -- but after what cost?  It is better to stop this now rather than resorting to litigation later.  Besides, who knows who will be the ninth jurist.  And then what?  Please pray.  Please contact your legislators.

 

 We live in a state where our deeply held religious beliefs are being challenged.  May that purify the church – and cause us to dig deeper in the Word, our final guide.  Jesus unites.  And it our hope.

 

 


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