California legislature seeks to shut down Christian colleges and universities

Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties
Young people seem to like gay marriage more than they like individual liberties

This is from Mere Orthodoxy, and it concerns Biola University, an evangelical university that specializes in Christian apologetics.


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.

The California Democrats don’t want people to have a Christian worldview outside of the doors of the church or school. You might remember that Obama himself has tried to push this view that there is no knowledge content to Christianity, that it’s just about church worship and having feelings of comfort. Democrats are fine with privatized religion like that, but not with practical application of what the Bible says, across all disciplines, out in the real world. They want to stop that, because they want to rule everything outside of the church walls.

What was really interesting to me is how the article noted that even at Biola University there are gay activist groups pushing the gay agenda. It can be very tempting to people to swing towards liberal opinions when they don’t have any grounding in facts. Is Biola doing a good job of sharing pro-marriage arguments and evidence to students? Why not make it mandatory that every student has to read books like “Truth Overruled?” by Ryan Anderson? If Christianity is just about reading the Bible and being nice to others, then there will be a falling away from Biblical moral values. Those values are not popular with the feelings crowd, and “the Bible says” does not stand up to the hurt feelings of sinners in a culture obsessed with feelings over moral obligations. A Christian has to be informed to stand up for what the Bible says. Does Biola have a plan to connect the Bible to arguments and evidence when it comes to moral issues?

17 thoughts on “California legislature seeks to shut down Christian colleges and universities”

  1. Of course.

    These groups go after anything that gets their views publicity, and try to frame the attack in a way that any opposition can be shown as proof of hate.

    The last thing they want is fairness.

    Atheists would never stand for their groups to be filled with voting Evangelicals.

    LGBTQxyzs would never allow their group to be joined by people who didn’t share their positions and then vote to change tactics.

    Social Justice Warriors, however, seem not opposed to forcing their way into groups that they know do not represent them and then claim they are discriminated against by “discovering” that the group does not express their views. Somehow, this is seen as the fault of the group that they joined knowing didn’t agree with them. Probably because the group is less likely to start a social media and physical campaign to bring things to a halt and demand firings that the complaining group is.

    There is an old insult about Puritans (and Presbyterians) being hounded by the sneaking suspicion that somewhere someone is having fun. These folks seem rather puritanical in their belief that there can be no group anywhere that isn’t as fanatical about their desires as they are.

    Keeps bringing back ideas of the French Reign of Terror.

  2. Why would Biola have a gay activist group on campus? Why would they permit it? Are they afraid of the backlash if they expel those students?

    Seems Biola is already caving which make it less and less likely that a law like this would affect them much.

    1. I think they should fight false ideas with true ideas, and use their power of mandatory courses to force the students to learn the arguments and evidence, instead of just going along with the culture to feel get and get peer approval. There is no logical argument to redefine marriage, it’s purely a matter of emotion… and coercion of those who dissent.

    2. As a Biola alumni and a parent of a current student, I assure you this is not the case. Students and faculty are required to sign a statement of faith as well as abide by a behavior contract – unlike the majority of “Christian” schools. They are also required to attend chapels and take 30 units of Bible classes. Students can disagree with policies, but are still expected to abide by the rules they agreed to. It is most disheartening to leadership and students that a very small, but loud group of students have allowed the world’s influence to distort their thinking in this area and they are challenging the school’s teachings. President Corey and the school’s leaders have been unwavering in their and the school’s defense of Biblical marriage and identity.

      1. All right, that does sound a lot better than I thought. I especially liked that they brought in pro-life and pro-marriage speakers to speak. That was important and useful.

  3. WK,

    I am a student at Biola (I just graduated the MA Apologetics program) and am starting the MA Theology in the Fall. I’ve heard over the last two years that there is a so-called “underground” LGBT group at Biola. There have also been protests (well, more like gatherings) of LGBT advocates on campus that clearly did not go through the administration, but were organized without approval. While I am not familiar with a lot of the what the administration is doing on this, I do know that pro-marriage defenders like Ryan Anderson and Robert George have been to the campus as guest speakers and lecturers at least once, if not several times. In addition this bill was mentioned by Paul Marshall (the commencement speaker) and Dr. Corey (our president) at the graduation ceremony last month. I think that its hard, however, to stop college kids from latching on to stupid, immoral or contradictory teachings (I am a 40 yr. old veteran who served in Afghanistan, so I had most of my stupid, immoral and contradictory thoughts and behaviors as an undergrad about 22 years ago).

    One student, who was expelled from Biola for openly homosexual activity, became a news sensation (cf. article in Newsweek) and a sort of hero to other post-modern minded undergrads on campus. What I don’t understand is why the issue of Biblical inerrancy is not at the forefront of this discussion (after all, that is the ground zero for this whole issue). I would like to see LGBT advocates, who claim to follow Christ, defend their view of biblical “authority” on campus and see how they can maintain a reasonable hermeneutical approach to scripture and their current lifestyles. I’ve watched at least one debate like this (James White vs. Justin Lee), and it is more than obviously crystal clear that there is no way to reinterpret the NT passages to fit this lifestyle. I know, therefore, that they can’t and therefore they won’t. Unfortunately, the idea that we can win this generation over with reason seems to be one of the most frustrating aspects of this whole culture war. As the will goes, so does the mind.

    Also, it doesn’t surprise me that the government will now go after the Christian academic institutions first (then the churches). The Communists did the same in Russia, sending all of the intelligent anti-communists, those who could write well and articulate contrary positions, to the gulag first. After that it becomes significantly easier to control your population.

    1. They defend their beliefs by claiming they have more accurate and relevant interpretations and reject traditional hermeneutics. People always find ways to interpret things to their benefit when they want to. Following such voices as Matthew Vines and Rachel Held Evans helps to affirm their thinking as more valid than what the Bible scholars have been and are teaching. It’s extremely disheartening, but they assert their “rights” loudly and aggressively and accuse anyone who holds the Biblical view as hateful and intolerant. The leader of Biola’s Equality Biola (formerly Underground) is a paid activist for Campus Pride. She knows her “rights” and is very savvy about expressing her views without overly violating school policies.

      1. I worry that people have lost the connection between chastity / courting and doing marriage right. Marriage done right, as a long-term project, is very satisfying and effective for cultural change. Christianity itself seems to “take” better when the children can see a loving relationship between mother and father. But there are rules to doing such a marriage. It seems like people think that they can be swayed by feelings, peer approval and cultural pressure and have everything “work out” for them regardless, in the end. This is happening in many different ways, not the least of which is feminism, which results in things like delaying marriage, no-fault divorce, and welfare for single mothers. None of these things is good, if you think marriage is good.

  4. Also a student at Biola (Talbot). Like Anthony said, there is (or was) an “underground” LGBT group that was not an official group on campus. I don’t think Biola allowed it to be an official group or club.

  5. Like sheep to the slaughter. “Civil disagreement and principled pluralism are foundational to a healthy democracy. Sadly America at large is forgetting how to do this and why we should.”

  6. I can’t say I’ve seen or heard of the protests that Anthony mentions in his post, but grad students like me can be pretty disconnected from the undergrad culture here.

  7. There was only one “protest,” if you can call it that, that I am aware of. It occurred about three months ago. My friend was on campus at the time and sent me pictures (a Newsweek article about a former Homosexual student had come out the day before). It looks like it was coordinated in advance and a group of about maybe 20-30 made its way across campus with flags and posters. Not sure what exactly they did or said. Again, more like a gathering than a sit-in protest.

    I agree with Kristen M. on both points: 1) I have seen nothing to suggest that Barry Corey or any of the Biola leadership are caving in to liberal-minded theology or secular humanism (In fact Barry Corey was on the radio in Chicago yesterday talking about the bill on conservative radio), and 2) I think that the real issue here is Biblical inerrancy. Yes, the LGBT advocates, who claim Christianity, are trying to utilize non-scholars like Matthew Vines and Justin Lee to defend novel interpretations of scripture, but there are also scholarly sources, who while maintaining a traditional reading of the passages relevant to homosexuality (e.g. Romans 1, 1 Cor. 6, 1 Tim. 1) will simply say that the bible is errant, thus allowing them to pick and choose the doctrines and claims that they find culturally palatable. We’ve seen this all before though, especially in the 19th-20th century liberal protestant theology that eventual brought down the mainline protestant churches. Back then it was a disregard for the historical and scientific credibility of the bible, but now the battlefield has advanced to the reliability of the biblical texts on moral and ethical issues.

    God is testing his church and we all need to be spiritually ready to stand in the time of trial. That includes training our minds as well as our bodies, just as the Apostle Paul instructed us. We must hold to purity if we are single and exclusivity in our marital relations otherwise we have little credibility in the eyes of the culture that surrounds us.

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