Pro-LGBT bill would violate freedom of speech, religion in Christian colleges in California

A bill filed in the California legislature that is intended to protect LGBT people from discrimination will violate the freedom of speech and religion as practiced in as many as 42 Christian colleges in that state.

Senate Bill 1146, authored by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, narrows the category of colleges and universities that are eligible for religious exemption to religious organisations that prepare students to become ministers of the religion, enter upon some other vocation of the religion or teach theological subjects pertaining to religion.

The bill also requires a college or university in the state that receives religious exemption under Title IX or Equity in Higher Education to disclose its reason for exemption to students, faculty members, employees and to the Student Aid Commission.

According to Biola University, one of those that will be affected, the bill will result in faith-based institutions no longer being able to require a profession of faith of their students and integrate faith in teaching curriculum.

"These institutions would no longer be able to require chapel attendance for students, an integral part of the learning experience at faith-based universities. These institutions would no longer be able to require core units of Bible courses. Athletic teams would no longer be able to lead faith-based community service programmes," it said.

In a press statement, Lara said the bill will close a loophole that allows private universities to discriminate against students and staff based on their gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

In an opinion piece in the Sacramento Bee, John Jackson, president of William Jessup University, wrote that the bill "is a flawed measure that denies faith-based universities in California the ability to function based on religious beliefs and constitutional principles."

"Although this may not be the intention of Sen. Ricardo Lara and his colleagues, the bill is discriminatory and violates the First Amendment and freedom of religion," he said.