Preserve Faith-Based Higher Education

Jun. 8, 2016 By Biola Staff

UPDATE: October 3, 2016

On Friday, September 30, 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1146. The bill will go into effect with the 2017-18 school year requiring faith based colleges to make disclosures.

The bill states: "each postsecondary educational institution in this state that claims an exemption pursuant to Section 901(a)(3) of the federal Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681(a)(3)) or has an exemption pursuant to Section 66271 shall disclose to current and prospective students, faculty members, and employees the basis for claiming or having the exemption and the scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption." The bill goes on to state that the school's disclosure must take place in "prominent" places on the school's campus, website and admission material.

 Read the final draft of the bill here.

 

UPDATE: August 31, 2016

Senate Bill 1146 was heard and passed by the full Assembly last week. It returned to the Senate floor on Aug. 30 for concurrence to Assembly amendments. It passed with the final vote 25-13. The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk. Governor Brown has until the end of September to take action on the bill.

 

UPDATE: August 22, 2016

Last week, Biola received news that Senator Lara made new amendments to SB 1146 — striking the section requiring that universities submit a detailed report of each suspension or expulsion to the Student Aid Commission. This section was in violation of federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws.

The section’s statistical reporting mandate was also of tremendous concern, given the very small number of reports anticipated from institutions. Senator Lara dropped this provision with the commitment from AICCU (Association of Independent California College and Universities) to work with him on an unbiased and more meaningful survey/study of campus climate that will look at the concerns raised by some legislators.

The public disclosure section of SB 1146 has also received minor amendments. The bill now has a one year delay before schools need to implement, which means faith-based schools will not need to publicly disclose the Title IX exemption until the 2017-2018 school year.

Due to the positive developments, the AICCU has now officially moved to a “support” position on the bill. The new amendments were taken up by the Assembly on Friday, August 19 and put into print. The full Assembly will hear the amended bill as early as Tuesday, August 23 and then return to the Senate for concurrence, before heading to the Governor’s desk.

 

UPDATE: August 16, 2016                          

On August 11, the Appropriations Committee passed SB 1146 with amendments to strike the section narrowing religious exemptions. The bill will be heard by the Assembly with a floor vote anticipated in the next week. If passed by the Assembly, the bill will go to the Senate for approval which must occur before the end of this month. The final step if passed in these houses is for the Governor to sign it into law by the end of September.

The bill now only includes the disclosure requirements in addition to a new provision requiring institutions to report reasons for student suspensions or expulsions to the California Student Aid Commission. Biola has long held to the importance of transparency in explaining our policies and the reasons for them. However, the new provision may not be consistent with federal and state privacy laws and may be an intrusion into the relationships of students and their institutions. We have reservations about some of the new requirements in the bill and are discussing them with the Senator's office.

The provisions that would have denied the Cal Grant to low-income students who wish to attend faith-based institutions are no longer part of SB 1146. The Senator's amended version of the bill also removes provisions that would have restricted the rights of faith-based institutions to freely exercise their religious mission and purpose as provided under current law.

While there have been positive developments on the bill, we know we will face similar challenges in the future. As reported in The Atlantic yesterday, “Christian colleges, especially in California, will likely see Lara’s change of direction as a hard-fought victory, but this may be a temporary reprieve. As the Los Angeles Times reported, Lara intends to pursue further legislation next year, when he may reintroduce the provisions that he dropped this year.”

For those who are interested in reading more about the amendments made to SB 1146, here is an article in Christianity Today.

Read the amended bill as of Aug. 15, 2016.

 

UPDATE: August 10, 2016

Yesterday, the presidents of California's faith-based higher education institutions received news from Kristen F. Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), about Senator Lara’s intent to amend SB 1146 to only include disclosure requirements and add a new item requiring institutions to disclose reasons for student expulsions to the California Student Aid Commission. He intends to inform the Assembly Appropriations Committee of these amendments later today. Pending review of this new language, Biola will change its position on this legislation from "oppose unless amended" to "support." Biola has long held to the importance of transparency in explaining their policies and the reasons for them.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee will hear the bill with the new amendments tomorrow. The committee will vote on the bill and, if passed, move it to the Assembly floor for a full vote.

Biola University is grateful to the senator for his continued commitment to working with AICCU on our behalf to retain the state’s commitment to access, opportunity, and choice. The new amendments will preserve Cal Grants for students who choose faith-based institutions for their undergraduate education, who choose colleges and universities that align with their values and convictions. The senator's amended version of the bill also removes provisions that would have restricted the rights of faith-based institutions to freely exercise their religious mission and purpose as provided under current law.

Biola is deeply grateful to all who joined in their efforts to oppose SB 1146 unless it was substantially amended. Legislators received an overwhelming amount of correspondence on this bill, and the voices of many who expressed their concerns were certainly heard.

If you have any questions, please email pr@biola.edu.

 

UPDATE: August 8, 2016

On August 3, Senator Ricardo Lara (D- Bell Gardens) chose to waive his right to present SB 1146 at the Assembly Appropriations Committee hearing and put the bill into Suspense. This was done to give Senator Lara time to continue to work on revising the bill and examine what amendments would be necessary. The bill will leave Suspense on August 11 and will be voted on by the Appropriations Committee. If it passes, the bill will be heard by the full Senate next week.

If you are a pastor or church leader in the Orange County area, please consider attending a luncheon on Aug. 10 to learn more about the bill and how your congregation can respond. Please email pr@biola.edu for more details.

Here is a link to an article written by Biola’s President Dr. Barry Corey on why it is so important that we actively protect our First Amendment right to religious freedom.

 

UPDATE: July 26, 2016

There have been some new developments in the last two weeks surrounding efforts to oppose SB 1146.

Since SB 1146 has become more wide-reaching and problematic with its amendments as of June 29, 2016, Biola has joined with many other faith-based institutions in expanded efforts to oppose the bill:

  • Biola has been working closely with more than 20 other faith-based institutions in California who would be impacted by the bill. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) has been lobbying on our behalf in Sacramento for the last few months. However, just last week a group of schools (including Biola) hired another lobbying firm to work with key lawmakers in Sacramento towards an agreeable outcome on this bill.
  • Azusa Pacific University president Jon Wallace and Biola’s president Barry Corey met with a coalition of more than 100 Southern California faith leaders, including leading African American, Hispanic and Asian pastors and leaders, to strategize about SB 1146. Recognizing that the religious freedom implications of SB 1146 go beyond higher education, this group is highly motivated to mobilize their constituencies in opposition to the bill. Click here to read a statement from national Hispanic leaders voicing their opposition to SB 1146.
  • Biola and the other faith-based institutions are having conversations with faith-based and bipartisan political leaders on the national level about SB 1146 and what truly is an unprecedented legislative moment of deep and lasting consequence.

The legislature will return from their recess on August 1, 2016. The next step for SB 1146 is the Assembly Appropriations Committee tentatively scheduled on August 3, followed by a vote in the full Assembly later in August. We need your help in opposing this bill. Here are a few ways you can join us in this critical effort:

URGENT ACTION STEPS

  1. Pray. Pray for elected officials who will be voting on this bill in August. Pray that SB 1146 is held in committee and does not advance.
  2. Contact Assemblymembers. We have identified a group of moderate legislators in the California Assembly who may be swayed to vote no or express serious opposition to SB 1146. Particularly if you live in one of the California districts represented by one of these Assemblymembers, please contact them today by phone or via email (remember to be kind and courteous). A sample letter can be found here.
  3. Contact your pastor and spread the word to your congregation. Feel free to pass along this video message about SB 1146.
  4. Share on Social Media. Share about the bill using hashtag #SB1146. Visit www.opposeSB1146.com for sample tweets and Facebook posts.
  5. Sign up for email updates regarding SB 1146. Sign up here to receive further email updates on the bill and how you can get involved. This will include updates on further amendments, legislative milestones and information on opportunities to join protest rallies in Sacramento and elsewhere.

Read the following recent news articles on SB 1146:

UPDATE: July 1, 2016

On June 29, SB 1146 was amended by Senator Lara by the advisement of the Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The new amendments, which were approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee by a 7–2 vote on June 30, altered the bill significantly and raise serious additional concerns with this already problematic legislation.

Sec. 3 of SB 1146 now amends the California Government Code (by adding Section 11135.5), which requires any entity that receives state funding or enrolls students who receive state financial assistance (e.g., Cal Grants), to abide by the expansive nondiscrimination provisions of Government Code Section 11135. SB 1146 unfairly makes only faith-based institutions explicitly subject to these government code provisions, and there is no religious exemption in place to protect institutions whose religious beliefs might conflict with portions of the law. This means that, except for vaguely worded carve-outs for certain religious practices, California’s faith-based institutions would be completely subject to nondiscrimination laws on a wide range of matters, from student admissions policies to conduct standards to housing accommodations and employment practices. This means that religious schools, for example, would no longer be able to limit admission of students or employment of people of their particular religious faith, nor would these schools be able to maintain certain conduct, housing and other policies according to their faith convictions.

The bill's author, Sen. Lara, has on numerous occasions stated that SB 1146 is not intended to affect Cal Grants, religious exemptions for admissions, certain other religious practices regarding students, or employment practices. However, as written currently and passed, SB 1146 does have these effects as well as perhaps a number of other serious consequences to faith-based higher education. The senator has committed to working on these issues, but there is no guarantee that the bill, if passed into law as currently amended, will include satisfactory protections for religious freedom.

Biola’s legal counsel, in collaboration with other college attorneys, is still working to analyze the implications of the amendments and work with the bill's author to address these concerns.

The legislature will be on recess the entire month of July. However, there will be ongoing efforts to amend the bill with the senator’s office. The bill will be heard by the Appropriations Committee on August 12. Please continue to contact your assemblymember. Visit OpposeSB1146.com for a sample letter and social media posts to use to spread the word.

Outreach efforts for the month of July will be posted in the coming week. Please check back regularly to stay informed.
 

 

UPDATE: June 27, 2016

The Assembly Judiciary Committee was scheduled to hear SB 1146 on June 28, but the bill was pulled today. The bill will be heard on Thursday, June 30. The time of the hearing has not been released.

If you are available to go to the State Capitol on June 30 to register your “oppose unless amended” position, please contact Brenda Velasco at pr@biola.edu. If you are unavailable to attend, please continue to email or make a phone call to Assembly Judiciary Committee members by Wednesday, June 29. Read the details under the June 23 update for contact information.

Updates on the status of SB 1146 will be posted here as we receive them. Please check back regularly to stay informed.

 

UPDATE: June 25, 2016

Watch President Barry H. Corey share his thoughts on California Senate Bill SB 1146 and its threat to the religious liberty of faith-based higher education.

 

Read the following recent news article on SB 1146:

Christianity Today: California's Religious Liberty Moment—Coming to a State Near You

UPDATE: June 23, 2016

Biola University, along with other faith-based institutions in California, has taken an “oppose unless amended” position because the bill narrows our religious freedom to operate according to our 108-year mission and religious tenets. In our view, this is now a First Amendment issue. Over the next several days, the university, in particular, aims to register our concern to the Assembly Judiciary Committee (by June 27). In addition, please register your concern with your assemblymember and ask for their “opposed” vote on the bill.  

A website — www.OpposeSB1146.com — launched, which houses more information on the bill, FAQs, and a place for people to sign up to receive more updates.

STOPPING SB 1146 REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ACTION

Right now SB 1146 is being heard by the California Assembly's various committees. It has already passed the California Senate. On Tuesday, June 28 it will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. If approved, it will then move to the Appropriations Committee and then the Assembly for a full vote, likely in August. The best chance to stop it is before it reaches the Assembly floor for debate and vote.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

1. Contact the Assembly Judiciary Committee members by the end of day on June 27.

  • Email/phone calls. Send an email or make a phone call to Assembly Judiciary Committee members by end of day Monday, June 27. Click here for a list of Judiciary members and here for a sample letter/email to express your concerns about the narrowing of religious freedom this bill would impose on Biola and all of California’s faith-based colleges and universities. Please voice your concerns with civility and respect.
  • Social media. Express your concerns about the bill on social media using hashtag #SB1146. Or visit the website to find suggested social media posts.

2. If you are available to go to the State Capitol on June 28 to register your “oppose unless amended” position, please contact Brenda Velasco at pr@biola.edu. Participants will be expected to state their name, school they’re representing and an “oppose” position. There will not be time to share anything further in committee. However, your voice and your presence will significantly influence the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

3. Pray for the Assembly Judiciary Committee hearing on June 28 at 9 a.m. Pray that SB 1146 is held in committee and does not advance.

Updates on the status of SB 1146, and timely action steps you can take to help oppose the bill, will be posted on here, so check back regularly to stay informed.

Read the following recent news article on SB 1146:

The Los Angeles Times: Faith-based colleges say anti-discrimination bill would infringe on their religious freedom

UPDATE: June 21, 2016

Today, Senator Ricardo Lara presented his bill SB 1146 to the Assembly Higher Education committee. We were encouraged that more than 20 people registered their opposition to the bill including nine Biola parents, students and alumni. During an hour of deliberation, assemblymembers posed questions and concerns to Lara, which concluded with an 8 to 2 vote in favor of bill and 3 abstaining. The bill moves to the Judiciary Committee meeting scheduled on June 28 at 9 a.m.

We will be communicating more on how you can take steps to register an “oppose unless amended” position on SB 1146. If you have any questions, please email pr@biola.edu.

Read the following recent news article on SB 1146:

Orange County Register: California's State Religion

UPDATE: June 20, 2016

Over the last several weeks negotiations have been taking place between the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) and Sen. Ricardo Lara’s offices regarding Section 1 of SB 1146. This section limits the religious liberties of faith-based schools like Biola University. Unfortunately, we learned today that efforts to arrive at an agreeable compromise on the language of the bill have reached an impasse. Although amended language was inserted into the bill on June 13 to allow for religious activities, it still prohibits Biola and other faith-based institutions from operating according to their mission and religious tenets. As a result, Biola is shifting from a “support if amended” to an “oppose unless amended” position on the bill.

We are asking our constituencies to do three things:

  1. Click here for a sample letter/email that you can personalize and send to the Assembly Higher Education Committee before noon tomorrow, June 21. Click here for a list of the members who sit on the Higher Education Committee. Every voice helps at this point.
  2. If you are available to go to the State Capitol tomorrow, June 21, to register your “oppose unless amended” position, please contact Brenda Velasco at pr@biola.edu. Participants will be expected to state their name, school they’re representing and an “oppose unless amended” position. There will not be time to share anything further in committee. However, your voice and your presence will significantly influence the Higher Education Committee.
  3. Pray for the Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing tomorrow, June 21, at 1:30 p.m. Pray that SB 1146 is held in committee and does not advance to the Judiciary Committee.

We will provide ongoing updates as we learn more. If you have any questions, please email pr@biola.edu.

Read the following recent news articles on SB 1146:

Pasadena Star News: Christian colleges must be allowed to keep religious freedoms: Guest commentary

Mere Orthodoxy: "It's going to be an issue." Biola, Conscience, and the Culture War

UPDATE: June 16, 2016

The Association of California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) met with Senator Lara's office and negotiations continue on the amended language of the bill. AICCU is working closely with their legal teams to satisfy Lara's concerns and the concerns of more than 40 faith-based institutions they represent. The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, June 21.

Please continue to pray for the negotiations actively taking place and the committee meeting.

Read the following recent news articles on SB 1146:

World Magazine: California lawmaker: Christian colleges must drop view of gender, sexuality

The Gospel Coalition: The FAQs: California Bill Threatens Freedom of Religious Colleges

UPDATE: June 9, 2016

As of this afternoon, the Association of California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) informed Biola University that they have a meeting with Sen. Lara scheduled Friday, June 10, to present amended language on SB 1146. They’re optimistic that Sen. Lara will agree to the proposed amendments of the bill.

In essence, the amendments would preserve the existing religious exemption and satisfy Sen. Lara’s concerns about protecting LGBT students who attend Christian colleges. We remain encouraged that Sen. Lara has stated that it is not his intention to restrict the rights of religious schools to operate in accordance with their faith.

Please continue to pray for these strategic discussions.

Read the following recent news article on SB 1146: National Review: California's Culture War Against Religious Liberty

Updates on the status of SB 1146 will be posted here as we receive them. Please check back regularly to stay informed.

 

June 8, 2016

Dear Biola community,

A threatening and overreaching bill (Senate Bill 1146) is working its way through the California legislature. If passed as is, this bill would strip California’s faith-based colleges and universities of their religious liberty to educate students according to their faith convictions.

The proposed legislation seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California only to those institutions of higher learning that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This functionally eliminates the religious liberty for students of all California faith-based colleges and universities who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience. Prayer or requiring chapel services, spiritual formation groups and ministry service are an integral part of the educational experience for faith-based campuses, and they are at risk if SB 1146 is passed. In addition, it would eliminate religious liberty in California higher education, as we know it today, and deprive tens of thousands of students of their access to a distinctly faith-based higher education.

The AICCU (Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities) and Biola President Barry H. Corey have engaged with Sen. Lara and his staff on a number of occasions to voice concerns and to propose amendments to SB 1146 that would both preserve the existing religious exemption and satisfy Sen. Lara’s primary concerns about protecting LGBT students who attend Christian colleges.

If passed as is, this bill would significantly challenge Biola University’s ability to continue in the mission that has guided us for 108 years.

As many as 42 faith-based institutions of higher education in California could be impacted. Some examples of how the bill would impact faith-based institutions include:

  • Faith-based institutions in California would no longer be able to require a profession of faith of their students.
  • These institutions would no longer be able to integrate faith throughout the 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 programs.

Currently, the bill is waiting to be heard by the California Assembly's various committees. It has already passed the Appropriations Committee and the California Senate. Action is expected as early as the week of June 13. If approved, the bill could then move through the Assembly — perhaps by June 30 — for a full vote. Our best chance to stop it is right now before it can get to the Assembly floor for a vote.

The author (Sen. Ricardo Lara) of SB 1146 has publicly stated that it is not his intention to restrict the rights of religious schools to operate in accordance with their faith. However, the legislation as currently written will greatly impact faith-based higher education. We need your help to make assemblymembers aware of the negative implications of the bill.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • Step #1 — Spread the Word. Forward a link to this article to parents, students or alumni of faith-based colleges and universities, churches or others who value religious freedom for faith-based institutions. Anyone who has an affinity for faith-based higher education in California should know about this threatening bill.

  • Step #2 — Contact Your Legislators.

    • Email/phone calls. Send an email or make a phone call to your California Assemblymember this week. Click here to find your Assemblymember and email them using the following format for their address: assemblymember.lastname@assembly.ca.gov (i.e. assemblymember.calderon@assembly.ca.gov). Click here for a sample letter/email. Whether by phone or email, the message is simple: Identify yourself and express that you have strong concerns about SB 1146, offering any reason you choose, or no reason at all. The important thing is to express your concerns about the narrowing of religious freedom this bill would impose on Biola and all of California’s faith-based colleges and universities.

    • Social media. Express your concerns about the bill on social media using hashtag #SB1146.

  • Step #3 — Pray. Pray for this moment in California history when our deeply held beliefs are being challenged. Pray that Biola is able to continue living and educating in ways that are consistent with biblical convictions. Pray that our mission, to prepare our students in mind and character through a biblically grounded education to impact the world for Christ, can remain unchanged.

Updates on the status of SB 1146 will be posted here as we receive them. Please check back regularly to stay informed.

Read the following recent news article on SB 1146: Sacramento Bee: Bill violates religious freedom on campus.

If you have questions, please review the FAQ page.

For more information, contact University Communications & Marketing at (562) 903-4727.

Biola University
13800 Biola Ave. La Mirada, CA 90639
1-562-903-6000