“It’s going to be an issue.”

You may recall those five words that were spoken by Solicitor General Donald Verrilli in the oral arguments phase of Obergefell v Hodges. Specifically, that sentence was Verrilli’s response to a question from Justice Alito about the tax-exempt status of private religious schools that continued to define marriage traditionally over and against the definition of the government. Justice Alito made a salient observation: If the Obama administration’s contention was that traditional marriage laws were analogous to racial segregation, wouldn’t schools that defined marriage traditionally be in the same category as those (such as Bob Jones University in the 1990s) who continued to enforce anti-segregation campus policies (and, thus, were ineligible for tax-exempt status)?

Verrilli’s response was telling; it signaled a willingness to acknowledge the latent tension in the same-sex marriage debate between the advance of “equality” and the preservation of religious liberty. The lines demarcating where marriage revolution begins and the protection of dissenters ends were, according to the state, blurry. The solicitor general’s comments were, of course, intentionally vague and uncertain, but a year after the Court ruled in the revolution’s favor, it’s becoming apparent how correct they were.

Biola University, located in Southern California and one of the country’s most well-known and prestigious evangelical colleges, now finds itself arguing for its right to be evangelical. The state legislature is seeking to amend a non-discrimination law which would stipulate that the only schools that can be granted religious exemptions to the non-discrimination statutes are schools that exist for the training of pastors and theological educators. Schools that offer more general programs—like a degree in humanities, engineering, or public education—would be required to submit to the non-discrimination law, effectively ending any legal protection for colleges and universities that want to only admit professing Christians or maintain campus-wide spiritual life programs.

The effect of the amendment would be to redefine religious liberty so as to make a clear distinction between institutions that integrate religious faith and public vocation and those that focus only on parochial training. Conceivably, supporters of the bill are fine with the idea of students receiving a religious education that teaches that marriage is the union of a man and a woman, and that sexual expressions outside this category are morally problematic—as long as this education is clearly not intended to go beyond the walls of a church service or a seminary lecture hall. Pastors and polemicists, yes. Business managers and brain surgeons, not so much.

Such a distinction is one that owes much to a faulty understanding, increasingly common on the Left, of what it means to be “religious.” Conservatives have warned for some time now of a serious attempt by sexual revolutionaries to make religious belief synonymous with religious worship; ergo, the private ritual of religion is what’s protected by “free exercise,” not the living out of such beliefs in the public square. The language desired by the California legislature feels like a clear substantiation of this concern.

Would the amendment protect students from discrimination? Certainly, the amendment would probably initiate the shuttering of several California colleges that LGBT activists would consider “discriminatory.” Because the non-discrimination law applies just as much to religion as it does to sexual orientation or gender identity, the language would essentially force Christian schools to relinquish their confessional identity—they could be sued, for example, for refusing to hire an atheist to teach sociology, or denying tenure to a New Age transcendentalist professor of comparative religion. What sounds like fairness to many progressives is in reality the dismantling of the idea of Christian education.

But there’s another issue at hand, one that supporters of the proposed amendment need to answer. While it’s true that the new language would probably curb discrimination in the sense of forcing the closure of many schools that teach traditional ideas about sexuality, the  proposed solution is less obvious. Advocates seem to think that protecting seminaries and religious training schools from the anti-discrimination language is still OK. But why? Why do seminaries and other institutions that train students for ministry deserve legal protection if cross-disciplinary schools like Biola do not?

Perhaps the thinking here is that larger, liberal arts schools such as Biola are more susceptible to infringing on students’ rights than smaller, ministry-minded institutions. But this seems to be a completely arbitrary notion. Consider what two supporters of the amendment, one a current Biola student, had to say about the bil:

Erin Green, a senior at Biola and executive director of Biola Equal Ground, an unofficial LGBT student support group, said it’s a common misconception that students who are LGBT wouldn’t choose to attend an evangelical Christian college.

“Here’s the thing – who’s paying for college?” Green said. “Parents are paying for college and if they’ve grown up in an evangelical environment, a parent is choosing the college. A lot of students have no choice.”

For students who are gay or transgender and deeply connected to their faith, the dissonance they feel on campus is intense, said Jordyn Sun, national student organizer for Soul Force, an advocacy group that works with LGBT students at evangelical Christian colleges.

“This is a Christ-centered university and I have faculty saying they love me, yet I can’t be myself on campus,” said Sun, who graduated in 2014 from Azusa Pacific University, a Christian college in Orange County that has not sought an exemption to Title IX. “I think it does more mental, emotional and spiritual damage to people than anyone realizes.”

Both Green and Sun’s comments seem heartfelt, but they have an enormous logical tension: If the goal of anti-discrimination law is to ensure that students don’t have to choose between their education and their sexual and moral beliefs, why should such law stop short of protecting students who want a seminary or ministerial education? Why are the experiences of liberal arts students more worthy of the force of anti-discrimination law than the experiences of seminarians?

But the reality is that this is the kind of tension that the architects of the marriage and gender revolution have assiduously avoided acknowledging. For years, we have heard from the contemporary activist class that the issue was one of civil liberties and not of conscience. But what else could the targeting of Christian higher education be, if not a clear move toward paving over conscience?

California’s hostile stance toward conscience is bold, but it very well may be a harbinger of things to come. Three days after the horrific murder of dozens of people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, the New York Times published an astonishing editorial that laid part of the blame for the tragedy at the feet of conservatives who criticized same-sex marriage and contemporary gender ideology. These conservatives, the Times editorial board argued, were responsible for a climate of “hate” toward LGBT Americans, a climate that manifested itself in Orlando. This irresponsible and ridiculous rhetoric is, of course, just rhetoric; but coupled with California’s actions against evangelical colleges, it seems to signal a real oncoming threat to traditional Christian belief.

After all, this isn’t just about sexual orientation and gender identity. It’s about the right to take seriously a narrative of human nature that disagrees with the progressive consensus. Forget same-sex marriage. Why should the California legislature suffer any school that forbids premarital and extramarital sex to exist? Why should any school be allowed to tell an adulterous husband that he is morally disqualified from ministry? Why should any institution of higher learning be allowed to lecture on the permanence and indissolubility of marriage to a student who has fallen in love with someone else?

Thus, Christian education itself unravels. Those who believe that a government bold enough to mandate the exile of Obergefell dissenters can stop short of attacking the very idea of a transcendent human story are engaging in a delusion that will, I think, be very short-lived. What is ultimately at issue is not whether couples of the same-sex can live together on a college campus. The ultimate question is whether any institution—whether Biola or Boyce Bible College—may attempt to shape the consciences of her students in ways that run afoul of a very modern, very Western sociopolitical “norm.”

And for that question, those who favor scrubbing out California’s Christian colleges need to offer something better than, “It’s going to be an issue.”

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Posted by Samuel James

Samuel D. James is associate acquisitions editor for Crossway Books.


  1. Concerned Baptist June 17, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Question: Isn’t the impetus of the bill that schools like Biola would lose the right to federal funding if they don’t abide by federal regulations like all other schools (public and private) which receive federal funding? Wouldn’t the case be solved, and Biola could remain as is, if they would just forgo receiving federal funding and thus placing themselves in the position where they have to serve two masters?


    1. Yes, my question exactly. I assume much of this could be resolved by churches forgoing tax exempt status and colleges no longer taking federal funding (like Hillsdale, for example). It’d be super painful to make such a change initially, but in the long run, a much better position to be in. Take no federal dollars, subsidies, or privileges. When you use someone else’s money, they control you and can have a say in what you do.


      1. Schools like Azusa Pacific, located in Los Angeles county, and Vanguard University, located in Orange County, rely on federal funding to sustain themselves. A school, like Azusa, is 80% funded by federal student loans. So to forgo those loans materially strikes at the heart of these institutions. So, yes, it will be painful; I suspect that administrators and professors at institutions that forgo state & federal funding will arguably have to redefine the phrase ‘the good life.’ Arguably, these schools will be now only accessible to those who have access to private lines of credit, which arguably presupposes that there are people of means-grandparents, parents, relatives or benefactors-who can allow these youngsters to take out these interest based private loans.


        1. Caniac Steve Henderson June 20, 2016 at 11:00 am

          like many ministries all across America the moment they took,accepted federal & state grants ( that originate from federal funds) they started a long slow spiritually plain slide into spiritual non-relevance in the current culture and societal expectations


        2. I think the solution is for Congress to pass a law saying that aid to students is simply that – aid to students, not the universities. Our governments don’t regulate supermarkets as a condition of them accept SNAP benefits. Our governments don’t regulate housing as a condition of them accepting Section 8 housing vouchers. The individual who needs the assistance is correctly seen as the beneficiary, not the provider of the good or the service. Similarly, colleges and universities shouldn’t be considered the beneficiary of student loans. Once someone qualifies for a federal loan or grant they should be able to take it anywhere they choose.

          That’s how things would work in my ideal world and I think it makes the most sense in a pluralistic society.


    2. In this case, it applies to funding from the State of California. But same basic point. BIOLA is entirely free to discriminate against LGBTQ people; it just won’t be allowed to ask the citizens of California to subsidize that discrimination.

      Isn’t this the same argument that evangelicals rely on to justify the Hyde Amendment, i.e., that they don’t want to fund things that are morally objectionable? Yes, it is! Most Californians find discrimination against LGBTQ people to be morally objectionable. They should be free to pass laws that prevent public funds from being used to engage in such discrimination.


      1. So it would be okay to deny Californians who have traditional Christian beliefs the freedom to attend colleges that follow their beliefs, so as to protect the rights of the LGBTQ community to force any institution or organization receiving any money, directly or indirectly, from the state to accept the LGBTQ lifestyle as normal and deny such institutions the right to operate under their own beliefs. Or, in other words, religious freedom is limited to those who agree with the current California legislature and their supporters.


        1. He who pays the piper calls the tune.


          1. Except really the students use student loan money and pay it to the college. The colleges like Biola don’t receive funds except for those type. But because the student who is paying the tuition gets the funds in that form, the thought is that the students shouldn’t be able to use them at Christian colleges who teach and maintain biblical beliefs . If that isn’t discrimination I don’t know what is

          2. Concerned Baptist June 21, 2016 at 6:05 am

            Right, except the LGBTQ students who wouldn’t be able to use their “funds” at schools like Biola, because schools like that actually “discriminate” against their gender identity and sexual orientation.

            No one is saying they shouldn’t have the right to discriminate–we are just saying the public (who happens to disagree with such a stance in california by a 2-to-1 margin) shouldn’t have to support the school financially.

            No one forces anyone to go to college, much less biola, and Biola isn’t entitled to government funds. It’s not discrimination.

          3. LGBTQABDEFGHJ#!639 students can attend these schools on exactly the same terms as any other student. That is the very definition of non-discrimination. Allowing students who *want* to attend these schools to have the same access to state funding as students who want to go to *other* schools just means the state is treating all the students equally. It does not grant extra favor to some students just because they chose a school that conforms to state approved ideology/religious belief. Which is the very definition of discrimination.

          4. No one is suggesting that the state is not engaging in discrimination. It is discriminating against schools that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in a manner that a majority of the public deems to be morally odious.

            For the most part, your complaint seems to lie with the fact that white Christians no longer make up an electoral majority in many states, including California, and can therefore no longer confer benefits onto themselves through their majority status. When any group possess an electoral majority, it will generally enjoy a limited right to confer certain privileges onto its members. But the receipt of those privileges was always contingent on maintenance of an electoral majority. Now that white Christians have lost their electoral majority in many places, it is only natural that their “privilege passes” are expiring.

          5. Well, nonwhite Christians exist too, and it was they not whites who put Prop 8 over the top.

        2. Huh? The proposed law does no such thing. It merely denies state-based public funding to schools that want to continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people. As I noted above, this is the same logic that underlies the Hyde Amendment, which was passed with broad support from conservative Christians.


    3. Why should taxpayers only be able to direct their tax dollars to institutions that despise them and their religion? Why should only Leftist Pietists receive subsidies but not orthodox Christians?

      Why in the world is everyone comfortable with the federal government extracting income tax for citizens and then only dispensing it back to them if they adhere to orthodox Leftism?


    4. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:39 am

      No, as the article clearly indicates, this is about state funding. Federal funding sadly provides an option for exemption from civil rights protections.


  2. Several corrections…

    First, the unedited version of Mr. Verrilli’s comments read as follows: “You know, ­­I don’t think I can answer that question without knowing more specifics, but it’s certainly going to be an issue.”

    Second, the author fails to refer to the current version of SB 1146. The law has been amended to satisfy certain objections from organizations such as BIOLA.

    Third, SB 1146 only applies to institutions that accept state funding. We’re not even talking about tax exemptions here, but the actual acceptance of public funds. The state has broad discretion in determining what kinds of programs it will fund with public dollars. Californians favor same-sex marriage by a 2-to-1 margin, and the state contains more LGBTQ people than any other state. Is it any surprise that the State of California would elect not to lavish public funds onto organizations that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation? If BIOLA cares so deeply about maintaining an LGBTQ-free campus, perhaps the school should not ask the citizens of California to fund it.


    1. The bill only protects seminaries, Bob. So, Talbot might gain the protection of the bill, but not Biola’a School of Psychology or its undergraduate science programs.


      1. Wrong. The bill would also protect religious education programs at schools like BIOLA.


    2. the way you frame it insinuates that there is pernicious discrimination rooted in animus. I reject that characterization although I know it supports the lefts narrative about this issue. ‘Discrimination’ has become a meme used to exact conformity or punitive measures on any person or entity that simply disagrees and does not endorse homosexual behavior and ‘progressive’ notions of gender and sexuality. No matter how it’s spun, this is intended to hurt schools offering an education in an orthodox Christian setting. That to me is the real wrong here.


      1. There’s no injury because the schools were never legally entitled to receive state funding.

        I’m not making any judgment on whether this is a wise policy or not. If a majority of people in a state find something to be morally objectionable, they are entitled to pass laws that prevent organizations from using public funds to subsidize such conduct. You may not find LGBTQ discrimination to be morally objectionable. Fine. That’s your opinion. The majority of people in California have a different opinion. And they are legally entitled to pass laws that prevent their tax dollars from funding things that they morally oppose.


        1. I did not say the schools were legally entitled to the funds. The fact that the schools will be harmed is not based on a premise of their being “entitled” to the funds. Its based on the reality that the sponsors of the bill must know, or at a minimum should know, that the impacts will be harmful and negative to the viability of the schools. You are the one operating from the premise that “might makes right” and that if the majority of the people want to do something they find objectionable, they should be able to just because they can. That is an overly simplistic and reductionist way of framing this issue and that sets it up as a zero sum situation where there are clear winners and losers. That is a sad trajectory to be on and defend.


          1. The passing of any law creates winners and losers. Allowing BIOLA to use public funds to promote discrimination against LGBTQ people creates winners and losers. Denying BIOLA that ability creates winners and losers. That’s life.

            Further, there can be no legal injury unless you had a legal entitlement to something. If, on the other hand, you’re merely the beneficiary of a windfall, you’re not legally injured merely because the windfall no longer inures to you.

          2. No, that is the ‘progressive’ way of thinking I reject. ‘Progressives’ see life as a zero sum game where some people getting more of the pie must mean others are getting less. Although some laws do result in winners and losers, ‘progressives’ assume this a priori, and this influences how they will approach any negotiation. You seem to confirm that. The statement that there can be no legal injury unless you had a legal entitlement to something is fallacious. I did not use the term legal injury, you did. I simply said injury and any legislation that essentially targets certain institutions making them vulnerable to ‘recourse’ (ie lawsuits, depriving of funds) is pernicious however much you want to frame this as a situation where institutions are practicing ‘discrimination’

          3. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 8:56 am

            He frames it this way precisely because, according to the law of the state of California, Biola–and other schools like it–are in fact discriminating against LGBTQ students. The fact that you don’t want to recognize it as discrimination because you happen to feel that it is not, doesn’t preclude the fact that based on legal definitions in California, it is.

          4. I dont feel it is not discrimination, it is a matter of fact that it is not discrimination. Biola and the other schools hold all students to the exact same standards. There is no discrimination. They make no distinctions based on any lgbt category.

          5. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

            So, saying you cannot be a part of Biola if you are openly LGBTQ is not discrimination against LGBTQ (a legally protected group)?

          6. What do you mean by openly?

          7. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 7:05 pm

            As in: is it okay for a student to be honest and open about their sexuality at Biola if it falls outside of Biola’s own gender and sexual ethics codes

          8. I am not aware of any school that forbids students from being open about experiencing same sex attractions. These attractions; though, don’t give those students a get out of jail card so that they no longer have to follow the conduct code they volunteered to adhere to.

            It seems you really expect these schools to give special treatment to any “LGBT” students. So if a student says he is gay, he should be able to go sexually stimulate as many men as he wants with no consequences while his “straight” classmates still have to wait until marriage to have sex per the conduct codes they volunteered to follow.

          9. Concerned Baptist June 23, 2016 at 9:17 am

            No, you seem to think being “gay” dictates that there must be sexual activity; I don’t. I am simply saying that two gay students couldn’t date at Biola, whereas two heterosexual students could.

          10. Yes, it is possible to date without engaging in sexual activity, but dating is *obviously* a step on the path to sexual activity. So the idea that these schools should be just fine with two male students dating each other so long as they dont fondle each other is just nuts. Where do you come up with these ideas?

          11. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 7:51 am

            Human decency and logic–based on your argument heterosexual students shouldn’t date either–you are really revealing yourself now

          12. What the…? How does that even follow? These schools are not trying to stop their students from marrying, and dating is normal step towards marriage.

          13. No, the reality is that exemptions are in place to protect schools like Biola because it has long been recognized that the practice of their religious tenants allows for them to make decisions consistent with their faith. The changes being pushed by Lara and his sympathizers are intended to make these schools easy targets, giving people the ‘right of private action’ against these schools if they ‘discriminate’ ie, attempt to adhere to the tenants of their faith. This is an erosion of the school’s constitutionally assured rights, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. The fact that Lara is unwilling to accept amendments to his bill that are acceptable to the 40 some religious institutions of higher learning shows that he is not acting in good faith. This is a way to erode the rights of these schools, make them vulnerable to lawsuits, and reduce their influence in the private square.

          14. Biola promotes discrimination against lgbtq people? What kind of nonsense is this?

    3. Wow… Someone with an articulate voice/argument doesn’t understand the nature of Christian higher education– don’t bother attacking… I won’t be reading much more of this hatefulness. I’m ashamed to admit to being a native Californian. I’m going to flee this state in order to be safe. Hoosier-who?
      Smart isn’t the same as wise. Transplant, maybe? Kindness might work…but seething hate never.


      1. I have no objection to the right of religious colleges to discriminate against certain classes of people. But there is no reason why the public should be required to fund such activities.


  3. Mark Osgatharp June 18, 2016 at 8:30 am

    The whole concept of a “Christian college” is nonsense in light of the Scriptures. These institutions have been the source of untold harm to the cause of Christ.


    1. Please elaborate, and include the Scripture references you were referring to. Do you believe all higher education should be secular?


  4. The reason that seminaries are left out is because, in the end, they don’t matter. Ministers don’t have to be manipulated during seminary because they’ll face the pressure to capitulate to the LBGTQ… for the rest of their career. It’ll only take a decade or so before the Christians are the ones decrying their seminaries for their intolerance. The LBGTQ… won’t have to do that dirty work. The christians in the pews will do it for them (2 Tim. 4:3-4). It’s a win win for the LBGTQ… community. They garner sympathy (and eventually support) with everyone that’s away at college and then the graduates go settle into their churches and begin to attack and criticize the pastor and his preaching for not being loving or welcoming enough. Game, Set, Match.

    What a sad state of affairs.


    1. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:27 am

      As with Christian defenses of slavery, eventually all but the lunatic fringe will believe that those parts of the Bible were for its own time and culture but have no place or application to our modern society, just as the many parts that have been proved wrong by science are now increasingly taken poetically or allegorically. As a fictional TV character (Dr. Tempe Brennan) correctly noted, religions that fail to change with the times are eventually demoted to accepted mythology, giving the example that nobody worships Odin anymore. Change, keep up, or people will realize your beliefs are mythological.


  5. We should not play into the fallacy that says difference on morality and lifestyle with another person equals rejection of the person. Of course, this notion itself plays off a false comparison that equates the kind of sex people desire with unalterable realities like racial identity. This is simply wrong. Just ask those who have left a homosexual lifestyle.

    Here’s the real problem – Intolerance from militant gay activists is dangerous to both liberty and civility. It encourages resentment and even hostility. This is America. You can’t see “Agree with us, or else!” on lifestyle issues with out starting a fight. How foolish! Race and chosen lifestyles are not the same and never will be.


    1. Concerned Baptist June 18, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      The above schools take a position that allows them to expel students who don’t agree with their position on gender identity and sexual orientation–tell me again who is taking a “militant” position.

      No one is saying that schools like these cannot hold to–and force their students to hold to–their sincerely held beliefs. Rather, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that entities that receive state funds (tax payer funds) act in accordance to the law of the state when it comes to anti-discrimination ordinances. I find it interesting that the writer here refuses to acknowledge this point. It seems like a dishonest depiction of the situation to me.

      In effect, and another commenter has already made this point below, the legislation is very much like the Hyde Amendment that keeps tax-payer dollars from going to a practice (abortion) that some individuals rightly find immoral. When the audience that lauds the Hyde amendment laments legislation that functions in a similar manner, except against one of their own causes, I find it slightly hypocritical for the culture warriors to cry foul. Just my opinion.


      1. “The above schools take a position that allows them to expel students who don’t agree with their position on gender identity and sexual orientation–tell me again who is taking a “militant” position.”

        It’s now considered “militant” to expel students that don’t meet the entrance requirements for a college? May God save your and their easily-traumatized souls the moment anything difficult happens in life.

        “Rather, the purpose of the legislation is to ensure that entities that receive state funds (tax payer funds) act in accordance to the law of the state when it comes to anti-discrimination ordinances.”

        The purpose of it all is to take money from taxpayers and only give it back to taxpayers when they adhere to Leftist Orthodoxy. This is, in practice, no different than the Catholic church of the middle ages taking mandatory tithes and then using them to build churches.

        Except where Catholics were typically worshipers of God, Leftists are typically worshipers of self, or of Satan himself. Increasingly, both.


        1. Concerned Baptist June 20, 2016 at 12:53 pm

          I generally don’t reply to people who refer to their political opponents as “leftists” or “fundamentalists” or “bigots,” etc. because generally when your argumentation depends on appealing to such inflammatory labeling it is because you don’t have a very strong argument–this is certainly the case here.

          No one is saying Biola shouldn’t have the right to hold such positions–and I wasn’t asserting that I found their position to be “militant,” but was more so appealing to the fact someone would accuse the government of being militant for drawing a hard line in response to an institution that admittedly draws very hard lines–to hold such positions on gender identity and sexual orientation is perfectly within their rights as a private institution. My larger point was that if your conviction tells you to hold to a position that the larger culture around you deems discriminatory (which is precisely the case here), it seems shallow to cry foul when you face the consequences. None of the culture warriors seem to mind the Hyde Amendment too much–it works the same way.


          1. Except that in your pristine analogy, no proponent of the Hyde amendment seeks to revoke the tax-exempt status of Planned Parenthood.

          2. No one is seeking to revoke BIOLA’s tax-exempt status either. The analogy to the Hyde Amendment is perfectly apposite. If a majority of people find something to be morally objectionable, they are entitled to pass laws that ensure that public funds are not used to subsidize such objectionable conduct.

          3. The Hyde amendment prevents public funds from assisting women in doing killing their unborn child. This would prevent public funds from assisting students who want to attend schools that do not conform to state approved ideology/religion.

            …I think your analogy needs work. “we cant help women kill their babies” and “we cant help students who dont want to learn the state religion” are not equivalent.

          4. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 8:53 am

            Right, except if you take a step back from your emotional response (I myself am very anti-abortion), you would realize that he policy actually does work in the same way. Use your head here.

          5. No, it does not work, the schools in question are not at all discriminating against LGBT students. So the moral objection to helping fund discrimination on the part of the people is nonsensical.

          6. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 3:22 pm

            Except you cannot attend, or be an active part of the school if you are lgbt–so theoretically, no lgbt student can use the state funds to attend the school, because the school won’t allow them to be there.

          7. No, LGBT students just have to adhere to the same standards as all other students. Biola and the other schools just make no special accommodation for them. They receive identical treatment and are held to the same standard. This is not discrimination. It is the opposite of discrimination.

          8. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 7:04 pm

            So a LGBT student would be allowed to be openly LGBT at Biola? Or is the right to live out one’s sexuality in public reserved for heterosexuals only?

          9. Stop feigning ignorance, this stuff is not complicated. All students voluntarily agree to follow the same rules. They all agree to refrain from sexual expression outside of a marital union.

          10. Concerned Baptist June 23, 2016 at 9:15 am

            Right, but a homosexual cannot have a loving relationship and a heterosexual can. You are the one who should “stop feigning ignorance” and recognize discrimination as discrimination.

          11. You’re right, no student who agrees to the codes of these voluntary institutions can engage in homosexual conduct in any context and still be a member of that institution. This is a good thing, it is not discrimination, the prohibition applies equally to all students (who agreed to the prohibition to boot). Claiming a “homosexual identity” is not an excuse to not have to live by the agreement that all students agree to live by. Claiming a “homosexual identity” does not make a kid a special snowflake who gets to live by different rules. Now, that *would* be discrimination. Go figure.

            This really is very very simple.

          12. Concerned Baptist June 23, 2016 at 2:35 pm

            Right but the problem is that homosexuals are a protected class. If the schools claimed that mixed race couples couldn’t be students, that would be discrimination plain and simple too.

          13. If you are just pointing out that some dopey judge or politician will say these schools “discriminate” against a “protected class” then sure. We already know that. There are plenty of those idiots out there. If you actually agree, then you’re a dope too, and you should change your mind. Being categorized as a “protected class”…again…does not make these kids special snowflakes that dont have to follow the same rules all the other students have to follow. It does not make them special snowflakes who get to remake these institutions…their communities…into their image, to fit their desires. Again, simple.

          14. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 7:50 am

            Turns out my assumption was right…you aren’t interested in legality or democracy–you just want to cry foul when the majority rules against you–probably for the first time in your life!

          15. Do you have no comprehension of the Constitution? A majority rule can be unconstitutional. Irony of ironies here, this happened in California already. The majority supported Prop 8 and a judge ruled it unconstitutional. It’s funny how when the majority rules against what LGBT activists want, that just has to be unconstitional, but if the majority sides with the LGBT activists then that cannot be questioned. Everyone else just has to suck it up and go along.

            Even if it means they can no longer be free to practice their faith…which is plainly the case here.

          16. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm

            We are talking about college. Not a wedding ceremony, a worship service, etc. If you are providing a service to one (i.e. an education) and you are accepting federal and state support from students–as Biola is–you must play by the state or federal governments rules whether you happen to agree or not. Such is life.

          17. The Constitution prohibits the establishment of religion. It cannot make private schools follow the state religion. Making schools affirm and celebrate homosexual conduct is tantamount to establishing a religion. There are limits on what rules the state can make.

          18. “I generally don’t reply to people who refer to their political opponents as “leftists” or “fundamentalists” or “bigots,” etc. because generally when your argumentation depends on appealing to such inflammatory labeling it is because you don’t have a very strong argument–this is certainly the case here.”

            I generally don’t reply to people who can’t organize beliefs into categories because generally such people can’t tell the difference between a personal attack and an attack on an idea or worldview.

            I see that you did not respond to my argument, but just reiterated what you had said before.

            As a Christian, I’m concerned that other people who wear the name – you included – are so absolutely concerned to be at peace with the world that you’ll let the world savage any good thing a Christian builds in the name of Christ just to keep the peace.

            If you really want to be a concerned Baptist, start being concerned for your supposed brethren.

            “No one is saying Biola shouldn’t have the right to hold such positions–and I wasn’t asserting that I found their position to be “militant,” but was more so appealing to the fact someone would accuse the government of being militant for drawing a hard line in response to an institution that admittedly draws very hard lines–to hold such positions on gender identity and sexual orientation is perfectly within their rights as a private institution.”

            Well, since the original use of the term “militant” was applied to a group that was neither Biola nor the government, maybe your problem is that you didn’t comprehend the original comment.

            “My larger point was that if your conviction tells you to hold to a position that the larger culture around you deems discriminatory (which is precisely the case here), it seems shallow to cry foul when you face the consequences. None of the culture warriors seem to mind the Hyde Amendment too much–it works the same way.”

            In America, we’ve always erred on the side of religious liberty. If you bother people – even the majority – your religious liberty is more sacred than their feelings. This new trend away from religious liberty and toward a monolithic quasi-religious government ethic is anti-American, to say nothing of anti-Christian.

      2. The law of the land says that congress shall pass no law concerning the establishment of religion and the free practice thereof. This has been extended to state legislatures as well. California’s constitution is a bit more ambiguous. “SEC. 4. Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without
        discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of
        conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent
        with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no
        law respecting an establishment of religion.
        A person is not incompetent to be a witness or juror because of
        his or her opinions on religious beliefs.”
        This does not preclude California from passing laws that impede free practice, but surely the federal equal protections clause does. So the only real question is whether the legislature is passing a law that has an impact on how a religious group practices their religion. It has. That should be the end of the discussion, but no. If religion can’t be constitutionally attacked, then we shall define religion away into a corner where it can have no public existence.


        1. The law would merely deny state-based public funding to schools like BIOLA. Since when is the state obligated to provide financial subsidies to religious practice?


          1. If I am not mistaken, students may use their public funding at any school they wish. The grants are actually for the student to pay for the schooling. Why is that not permissible…the Hyde amendment is entirely different. Funds go to abortion providers directly. Not as a grant for a patient to utilize. Schools like Biola are not given block grants from public funds. They end up with funds that students choose to spend there.

          2. The Hyde Amendment blocks both direct and indirect funding. This law would do the same. And, certainly, if the state is using public funds to subsidize certain educational experiences, it stands to reason that the state may want to opt out of funding educational experiences at institutions whose policies against LGBTQ people are objectionable to most Californians.

            Look, if it means so much to BIOLA to purge its campus of all LGBTQ people, then why does the school expect the people of California to subsidize such efforts?

      3. I agree on the nature of the dishonesty. When a writer conveniently glosses over the most cogent objections to his argument, it doesn’t say much for the credibility of the argument…or of the moral integrity of the writer.


  6. […] “It’s Going to be an Issue.” Biola and Religious Liberty Biola University, located in Southern California and one of the country’s most well-known and prestigious evangelical colleges, now finds itself arguing for its right to be evangelical. The state legislature is seeking to amend a non-discrimination law which would stipulate that the only schools that can be granted religious exemptions to the non-discrimination statutes are schools that exist for the training of pastors and theological educators. […]


  7. […] “It’s Going to be an Issue.” Biola, Conscience, and the Culture War […]


  8. Caniac Steve Henderson June 20, 2016 at 10:55 am

    makes me glad my children & grandchildren are too old to worry about ever attending a ” Biola” type school in California. but i have several friends & acquaintances who sadly do…Maybe it is time for Biola or even groups like The Salvation Army consider moving all of their educational institutions out of California so they wouldn’t be legally harassed,sue or fined out of existence


    1. Krystine Kercher June 20, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      I’d agree with you, as it’s the kind of school my daughter may want to attend in a year or two, but–if they leave California, which state is going to offer them a better safe harbor if we do not stand up and be counted, and refuse to kowtow to the militant gays and the hostile anti-god forces on the left?


      1. Caniac Steve Henderson June 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

        I see and hear your point..we all need to be aware,politically active and constantly on our ” knees” as it were in prayer ..GBU and have a great night .


    2. I’d suggest out of the US


  9. Thanks to all for reading and for comments.

    A couple commenters have raised the question of federal funding. Specifically, the question about my piece is whether Biola’s acceptance of federal funds (through student aid subsidies, mostly) means that the government isn’t actually “targeting” private Christian educators like I suggest.

    It’s true that under California’s law, the penalty that the government would pursue for non-compliance from Biola is the withdrawing of federal funds. So in that sense, it’s true that Biola could get around this simply by refusing to take federal monies.

    But the kind of federal money that Biola, and hundreds of other Christian colleges take is not money given to the school to survive. It’s money that is granted (by and large) for the sake of students, and incentivizing them to go to college. Students who go to Biola can use federal grant money toward their Biola education. By threatening to withdraw this money, the government of California is threatening to end federal student loan subsidies for the school and, thus, punish the institution by discouraging students to go there.

    The proposed language about discerning between seminaries and parochial schools, and liberal arts colleges like Biola, is hard evidence that the state of California is, in fact, targeting Christian education. Because Biola has certain theological positions, the state wants it to withdraw from the public square of education and either cease to exist or become nothing more than a ministry training center. Based on the example of Bob Jones University that Justice Alito used in his question, we have reason to think that ultimately the goal of these activists is to rescind tax-exemption for ANY institution that teaches traditionally on marriage or sexuality. After all, the analog, admitted by Verrilli, doesn’t make sense otherwise.


    1. Caniac Steve Henderson June 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

      so with all that said…how does a ” christian & evangelical school even be classified as a ” liberal arts” institution ? Sounds like and again the people on the governing boards were asleep at the wheel when Prop 8 lost n the courts and notice they didn’t go to any federal courts back east did they ?/ As they knew then that they’d never win via the ballot box until the 2040-2050 …but it is what it is…Thanks for the further clarification


    2. The law would not affect federal funding. The State of California cannot regulate how the federal government spends its money. The law would only apply to funding received from the State of California.

      As I noted below, the logic of this law is no different from the logic of the Hyde Amendment. Many people find abortion to be morally objectionable. So, the Hyde Amendment ensures that their tax dollars will not be used to fund abortion. Well, many Californians find discrimination against LGBTQ people to be morally objectionable, and they don’t want their tax dollars used to fund such discrimination. When a majority of people find certain conduct to be morally objectionable, they are entitled to pass legislation limiting the use of public funds to finance such conduct. I see no problem here. BIOLA is not legally entitled to receive public funding.


    3. But was not Biola created to be primarily a place of seminary training? Does it now walk with fealty to its original calling? Take a look at Vanguard: its theological department is now the handmaiden to the departments of psychology, education, business and nursing; arguably it no longer is faithful to its original vision if very few of its theological graduates are no longer serving a$ ministers or teachers. Does one need to attend a Christian school of nursing? Or can a Christian nurse go to a secular nursing school and then attend a two year seminary for a solid theological grounding? Is that the comprise that need to be made????


    4. Since you don’t require that your students be Christian, you don’t have any basis for suggesting that you are able to discriminate based upon the Christian belief system. Period.

      Ya don’t want to play by public rules, don’t take the public’s money. Get all those who support your beliefs to pony up. You are being selfish. You want everyone to pay, but you don’t want everyone to be able to attend. Not based upon their academic abilities, but because they have different beliefs. Sorry, but that’s not consistent with how pubic funding works.

      “is hard evidence that the state of California is, in fact, targeting Christian education. ”

      Just the opposite. Christian education is education regarding Christianity. That education is exempted. You want to pretend that there is such a thing as Christian psychology. There is not. You want to justify your discrimination by putting “Christian” in front of it. Not gonna fly. You wanna focus on teaching about religion? Not an issue. You want to provide general education? Not a problem, but don’t expect the public to support it if you are going to discriminate based solely upon your religious beliefs. You don’t have a religious test for admission.

      “punish the institution by discouraging students to go there.”

      They aren’t discouraging students from going there. They simply aren’t funding their going there. No reason your exclusionary school can’t raise money and offer scholarships to students. If your brand of education is so very popular, reach out to those who support your views and raise money to pay for these students to attend. I think ceasing to use public money to allow you to discriminate would fall more into the category of “it’s about time” rather than “punishment”.


      1. This is the epidemic of too many lawyers. I’ve known many Christian kids who have attended publicly funded Universities and been continually discriminated against by flagrant liberal ideologies professed by the professors and supported by the deans. Should all funding stop to those public universities? Same with conservative kids who face an obvious bias by the liberal education system. Want another example? The Clinton’s. They’ve garnered over 150 million dollars in the past 15 years being privileged on the invite list and talking circuit to publlc universities. No one else in America gets such treatment from the tax payer based education system, again just liberals. And when their fee ranges between $300k – $400k per speech, and is gladly accepted by universities without question. So again maybe all these universities either change their ways, including their staffing, or be excluded from tax payer exemption? Just to single out Religious Groups is biased on its foundation. But in the liberal lawyer club fully acceptable.


        1. Concerned Baptist June 22, 2016 at 5:29 pm

          Right, but in these cases the students still have the right to be on campus…


          1. Just no rights once they get there. As long as the liberal, socialist, communist agenda is met you seem to have no problem. When those public institutions are in violation of fair play, discrimination, and there’s far more of those, but you are silent there. So where the majority of injustice exists you’re ok with it. No one is entitled to receive public funding, they all must apply for it. It seems they all get theirs without question, once Christ becomes involved then the spyglasses come out. Ignoring the massive majority of injustice, which is ok with American lawyers. The ABA is the major donor to liberal ideology.

          2. Concerned Baptist June 23, 2016 at 9:12 am

            I have degrees from two incredibly liberal institutions and I myself am a life-long conservative, I think your talk of conservative “discrimination” is drastically overstated. Is there an overwhelming liberal tilt in the classroom and faculty of most institutions? Yes. Does this mean that conservative students are discriminated against, in 99.9% of cases–no.

            You assume too much and use your mind too little.

          3. Yet you think it’s discrimination if conduct policies forbid men and men dating each other…odd.

          4. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 7:45 am

            Because according the to the state of California, it is! This sole fact is what makes this whole case so simple–the fact that you disagree with the state doesn’t mean you have a valid, legal argument. When I was a child, my mother and father taught me to get over myself when I was upset because things didn’t go my way.

          5. So the state cannot be wrong? That seems to be what you are implying. That the state has taken a position, and because of that position, no one else can even have a “valid, legal” argument.

            It seems to me that it is valid to argue that the state’s position (if that is the case) is morally wrong and also legally wrong (i.e. it violates the Constitution…which it really does)

          6. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 12:52 pm

            Then let the courts decide–oh wait they already have on numerous occasions. Switch out race for “homosexual” and we are back in the 1950’s–didn’t learn your lesson then either eh?

          7. No one but you is talking about “homosexuals”. Schools such as biola have conduct codes that apply to all students. This has nothing to do with “homosexuals”.

            Your analogy is just unbelievably stupid.

          8. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 12:56 pm

            if it is unbelievably stupid refute it! I’ll wait.

            And this whole ruckus is over homosexuality.

          9. I have already refuted it, all students volunteer to follow the exact same conduct code. No student is singled out because of their sexual attractions.

          10. Concerned Baptist June 25, 2016 at 7:04 am

            So freedoms being denied to one protected group (homosexuals), which are afforded to another group (heterosexuals), doesn’t equate to discrimination in your book?

          11. No freedoms are being denied anyone. All students freely volunteer to adhere to exact same code of conduct What in the world are you talking about?

            Are you being intentionally stupid or are you actually stupid? I think, at this point, that is a fair question. This stuff is not complicated, the same exact rules apply to all students equally.

          12. Concerned Baptist June 27, 2016 at 6:43 am

            Except for one group of students (homosexuals) are directly denied the right to attend the school based on the code of conduct. So in effect, the code of conduct discriminates against these students.

            The question isn’t whether Biola has the right to discriminate on such grounds–as a private institution it does. The question is whether they should receive state and federal funds if they continue their practice of discrimination.

          13. Same here. I’m a conservative, but received all of my degrees from liberal schools. I received my JD from one of the most liberal law schools in the US. Never once did I suffer from any degree of unfair discrimination. In fact, I received a prestigious writing award from the law school faculty for a fairly conservative-leaning article I wrote (on antitrust policy).

          14. Putting your reliable poll numbers on top of an already verified problem shows your ignorance on the issue. No assuming, heard from too many concerned students in Ca. to ignore their concerns. Notice the education level has dropped into the toilet, maybe that’s why you didn’t notice the bias, the stats show, you’re just not that bright. Having a college education today means little.

          15. Concerned Baptist June 24, 2016 at 7:48 am

            Students crying foul doesn’t make the perceived offense true–I have seem many conservative and liberal students cry foul at “tyrannies” on campus that simply didn’t exist! And let’s not act like conservative schools don’t function in the same–perhaps even more repressive–way.

            Many conservative schools, Biola included, make you sign and affirm a code and statement of beliefs before you can be a student/faculty at their school–are you lauding this as discriminatory to liberal students? Let’s at least be consistent!

          16. It’s not a perception when these cases come up and the public school system, universities, are found guilty of them. It doesn’t stop it, they could care less…And somehow being up front about who you are and what you represent is offensive to you, well at least to Ca. lawmaker’s, not that’s a joke group. the Public Education System does this without the advertising. Public Universities invite the clinton’s to tax paid events to the tune of $300K – $400K per speech (about 45 minutes). No one else gets these $$$ for speaking, only within the tax funded education system. Over $150 million and counting. We have Black Universities, Muslim Schools….

          17. You are still peddling these lies?

      2. In response to: “You are being selfish. You want everyone to pay, but you don’t want everyone to be able to attend. Not based upon their academic abilities, but because they have different beliefs. Sorry, but that’s not consistent with how pub[l]ic funding works.”

        Oh, yes. It is. Otherwise, we as a nation would not fund many things we disagree with, i.e. welfare, food stamps, education, medical for illegal aliens, lifetime salaries of elected officials, etc. I see this as another attempt to force a universal belief on the citizens of the nation.


        1. Concerned Baptist June 23, 2016 at 9:14 am

          Actually everyone could qualify for those–minus felons–if they found themselves in the requisite position to apply for any of the above benefits. Your critique doesn’t hold.


      3. YOU want everyone to be “inclusive” and “tolerant”… but you’re not. Typical Leftist Authoritarian hypocrite. If your brand of killing is so very popular, then reach out to those progressives who support abortion and make them pay for Planned Parenthood!


  10. One reason we can’t let Hillary become president! At most 3 justices of the Supreme Court will be placed and you know the type of people Hillary will pick! No more conservative issues brought before the Supreme Court will even have a chance! Looks like Biola will be at the top of the list to be destroyed!


    1. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Since you didn’t read the article, let me point out that this is a matter of state law and state funding. Federal funding sadly comes with a built-in option for bigots to get exemption from protecting their students’ civil rights. No Supreme Court justice, progressive or regressive, seeks to overturn Title IX’s exemption scheme. Read the article.


  11. Ryan Scott Grafton June 20, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I still don’t understand how someone can say that the institution at which the LGBT person attends “does damage.” The individual has chosen to self identify in such a way as to claim victimhood. Nobody has tried to damage anyone. Biola is not Orlando. Azusa Pacific, likewise, is not Pulse. By the way, why isn’t the LGBT crowd going after Orlando or Pulse for permitting the isolation and making the predominantly LGBT attendees into one big bulls-eye for a terrorist?


    1. RustySkywater June 21, 2016 at 8:28 am

      So much wrong with this post…


    2. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:35 am

      Until the shooting, Pulse was an example of one of the few very categories of LGBT safe spaces, places where they can gather together *without* looking over their shoulders constantly. Absent such “isolation,” most LGBT must be ever vigilant in public over fear of violence and harassment.


      1. Ryan Scott Grafton June 22, 2016 at 9:35 am

        I am completely aware that, to you, my response is worthless. As you dismiss any opinion that comes from a “non-modernist” or non-secular humanist standpoint (using the historically defined parameters of what “modernism” means in a cultural and theological context). However, what you have called a “safe space” is, like every small town evangelical church, a “soft target” for would be perpetrators of evil and hate (just ask your insurers and law enforcement). To pretend that the “hate” is coming from these churches is radically off-base.


        1. RustySkywater June 22, 2016 at 4:18 pm

          Your opinion shouldn’t be dismissed just because it isn’t modern (however you happen to be defining modernity). It should be dismissed because it’s wrong.


          1. Ryan Scott Grafton June 23, 2016 at 1:13 pm

            Nonsense. Back it up. Your opinion is untenable and wrong – not just because I say so (your tactic).

  12. I guess BIOLA needs to proclaim that they are now an Islamic School for Education…. the government would then take it’s hands completely off.


  13. RustySkywater June 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    This may be something of a digression, but there still is another relevant question: are these campus policies good and wise for a religiously-affiliated college to have in the first place, regardless of the legality of whether they may exist?

    An outright ban on gay and transgender students can be criticized for many reasons: Extremeness, enforceability problems, a poor example of pastoral care, etc. The one that’s most glaring to me is that exclusion policies like these are not a universal among all Christian colleges; that is, there are many existing colleges that are already able to “be evangelical”, as you say, without having such an arcane policy.

    So, in other words, the ideal situation would be for Biola to make the decision to revise their policies independent of any changes in the law. Alas, now that this has become a hot button issue, any changes would be seen as capitulation (given the new polarization in society) and won’t happen.


  14. The REAL dirty little secret of the Left is that secular humanism IS a religion itself, and is the de facto Established religion of these United States.


    1. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:31 am

      That is as ridiculous as calling atheism a religion. Absence of religion by definition cannot be a religion. Religious neutrality cannot promulgate a religious viewpoint. FYI, there *are* religious humanists, and that is a different thing. Not all humanists are secular; some cling to vestiges of superstition.


      1. Atheism/secular humanism are absolutely religions. They are faith-based belief sets about the origin of life, the source of morality, the purpose of life, the existence of supernatural beings, man’s interaction with supernatural beings, and the state of man after death.


  15. Linda Stricker June 22, 2016 at 8:16 am

    The New York Times was correct about the irresponsible and ridiculous rhetoric of Christian conservatives fomenting such violence, as they also did in the case of the Planned Parenthood shooting. It’s happening now, again, with well-publicized pastors saying the Orlando shooter didn’t kill enough people, and Dr. James Dobson hinting strongly that Christians should gun down innocent transgender people for using the appropriate restroom.


  16. Would a solution be for Congress to pass a law saying that student loans, aid, grants, etc. is going to the student, not the university? We don’t have laws placing mandates on stores that accept SNAP benefits, why should we place them on universities that accept student loans? Get the Feds out of the business of regulating higher education completely.


  17. So there go some more hours wasted on hysteria over nothing. The Solicitor General’s answer to the question was that he didn’t know and that he couldn’t answer the question without more information. He then said that it would be an issue to keep his position open, without foreclosing any position the government might take in the future. Naturally, you cut off everything but the sentence fragment that you need to instill hysteria and you run with it for over a year.

    And during that year not a single Christian school has faced any challenge as to its tax exempt status, just as none have faced any challenge in MA after 12 years of gay marriage pursuant to their state constitution or in CA after 3 years of a federal constitutional ruling for SSM. In fact, there hasn’t been a single application of Bob Jones anywhere in the United States outside of the context of racial discrimination. But hey, don’t let me stop you. Keep shrieking and wailing. It’s not like there are any real problems that need dealing with.


  18. […] “It’s Going To Be An Issue.” Biola, Conscience, And The Culture War By Samuel James […]


  19. […] Samuel James: Would the amendment [SB 1146] protect students from discrimination? Certainly, the amendment would probably initiate the shuttering of several California colleges that LGBT activists would consider “discriminatory.” … What sounds like fairness to many progressives is in reality the dismantling of the idea of Christian education. (Source) […]


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