The title of this post sounds extreme, I know. And, no, I don’t think any state is trying to make Christianity itself illegal, as in trying to close churches and schools and suppress ministries. But, one has to wonder what’s going on when California passes laws that require Christian organizations (and, really, all religious organizations) to pass muster with the state, or engage in activities contrary to their religious principles.
Last year, the California legislature passed and Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1146, which requires all post-secondary education institutions to comply with the state’s interpretation of Title IX federal law. Initially, this would have meant that religious schools could be forbidden from requiring their students, who voluntarily choose to attend these schools, from being subjected to any religious activities unless they were specifically studying religion or theology. So, the school would not be able to require students to attend religious services, or introduce religious teaching or themes in courses not specifically religious. It would also require these schools to make female bathrooms open to men who identify as female, and vice verse. There was some question, even, of the state denying Cal State funds to students who choose to attend these schools.
The law faced a lot of opposition from Californians and California colleges and universities. It was amended, but the amended law is still seriously problematic because it requires religious schools to submit their claims for exemption from the law to the state and to communicate their exemption and the reasons for said exemption in ways mandated by the state. The state, then, would have the authority to judge these claims for exemption as insufficient, and require the religious school to follow their interpretation of Title IX, anyway. This makes bureaucrats in the California state government arbiters of what constitutes and does not constitute genuine religious principles.
SaveCalifornia.com, an activist organization that opposes SB 1146 and is hoping to challenge its provisions on religious liberty grounds, says, “By requiring religious institutions to justify their exemption, the State makes itself a judge of the religious doctrines/beliefs/practices of religious colleges, which, under SB 1146, must attempt to justify to the State ‘their respective bases for claiming the exemption.’ This subjective mandate creates an official State prejudice against exempt colleges, and in regard to Title IX exemptions, has the State acting as if state law were supreme to federal law. As written, SB 1146 clearly violates ‘separation of church and state.'”
California is also requiring that pro-life pregnancy centers give information to clients on where they can obtain an abortion and that their abortion can be paid for by the state. Okay, the reason pro-life pregnancy centers exist is to discourage clients from procuring an abortion and providing them with alternatives to abortion, including support for those who choose life for their child. To require these centers to provide information on where to obtain an abortion and that there could be no cost for the abortion to women facing difficult circumstances is contrary to their mission. For many of these centers, religious convictions that demand respect for all life, including life in the womb, is at the heart of their mission. To require them to provide this information is a direct violation of free speech and, in some cases, religious liberty.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Ninth Court backs up California. Happily, a federal judge has told the state that the law violates religious liberty and their arguments justifying the law are bogus. We’ll see where it goes from here.
So, what’s going on in California?
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.