California Moves to Deny Funds to Christian Colleges

Two bills are moving through the California state legislature that would together operate to deny "Cal Grant" money to colleges and universities that maintain Christian standards with regard to homosexuality and transgenderism.

Cal Grant money is given to students to cover educational expenses; it does not have to be paid back.  To qualify, a student must attend an eligible post-secondary institution, meet certain financial requirements, and maintain a minimum college grade point average of 2.4.  Students attending independent colleges can receive up to $9,084 per year; there are different amounts for UC and CSU campuses.

Under Assembly Bill 1888, introduced by State Assemblyman Evan Low of Silicon Valley, no post-secondary institution is eligible to have its enrollees receive Cal Grant funds unless it certifies that it does "not subject an applicant, student, or employee of the institution to discrimination on the basis of . . .  gender identity, gender expression . . . religion, sexual orientation," etc.  Religious institutions are exempt with regard to religion, meaning that they can discriminate in hiring of faculty and admission of students in favor of the religion that operates the institution.  But there is NO exemption with regard to sexual orientation or gender expression or identity. 

AB1888 also provides that no institution whose enrollees receive Cal Grant money may apply for, receive or have a waiver from Title IX.   Title IX was passed in 1972, largely through the efforts of Indiana Senator Birch Bayh, to equalize funding of male and female college athletic programs. As we have noted, two years ago, Obama "reinterpreted" (i.e., lawlessly and unconstitutionally re-wrote) Title IX to make it applicable to gays and the transgendered. 

In acknowledgement of the fact that many denominations have religious objections to homosexual and transgender conduct, the U.S. Dept. of Education has allowed religious colleges to apply for and receive waivers from the new interpretation of Title IX.  But if AB1888 passes and is signed into law by "Governor Moonbeam" (that's Jerry Brown, for readers not old enough to remember his nickname from the last time he was governor), Cal Grant money would be denied to all students who wish to attend conservative religious colleges that have received, or even applied for, the waiver. 

To enforce this part of the proposed law, a companion bill, Senate Bill 1146, introduced by State Senator Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, requires every institution that claims a waiver from Title IX to "disclose to current and prospective students, faculty members, and employees the basis for claiming the exemption" and "submit to the Student Aid Commission copies of all materials submitted to, and received from, a state or federal agency concerning the granting of the exemption." Moreover, SB1146 provides that "the Student Aid Commission shall collect the information received . . . and post and maintain a list on the commission’s Internet Web site of the institutions that have claimed the exemption with their respective bases for claiming the exemption." 

So the state government will be compiling a list of every college that applies for a waiver from Title IX so they will know which schools are not eligible to have their enrollees receive Cal Grants. 

However, SB1146 has been amended to provide an exception for religious schools:  "An educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization and has participated in the Cal Grant Program. . .  continuously since January 1, 2016, shall not lose its eligibility to participate in the Cal Grant Program as a result of its failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter." 

And SB1146 also exempts religious or theological programs or departments whose purpose is "to prepare students to become ministers of the religion, to enter upon some other vocation of the religion, or to teach theological subjects pertaining to the religion, if the application of this chapter would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization."  This section does not seem to exempt whole institutions, just the portions whose purpose is religious training.

If I were counseling a conservative Christian college in California, I would urge it not to be lulled into inactivity by the religious exemptions written into SB1146, which is basically just a reporting requirement.  It is AB1888 that has the real teeth, and it does not have meaningful religious exemptions or exceptions regarding homosexuality and transgenderism.

The last I checked, no Adventist schools had received an exemption from Title IX.  Loma Linda and La Sierra seem to be relying on boiler plate claims of exemption, rather than formally applying to the Dept. of Education for a waiver.