Schwarzenegger Creating "Burden on Relgion"

29 08 2006

Filed under: Church and State, Bill 1441

I think he is just trying to fly low on the radar and pick his battles. But this is still quite disappointing.

Senate Bill 1441, sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and authored by Senator Sheila Kuehl (D-Santa Monica) passed the legislature Friday. The bill, which is quoted below, is designed to amend the existing Section 11135, extending the ban on discrimination in state operated or funded programs to gays – including services like police and fire protection, financial aid, social services and food stamps.

But let’s not forget learning institutions.

With a tough reelection fight looming, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week signed a controversial nondiscrimination bill. SB 1441 prohibits discrimination, on the basis of sexual orientation, against any person in any program or activity “that is funded directly by the state, or that receives any financial assistance from the state.”

Most directly affected will be educational programs, including religious colleges. The new law would mean for example, that a Christian college whose doctrine adheres to biblical morality would be required to hire openly gay professors if that college were to accept Cal Grant money. In effect, the law puts the boot of the state squarely on the necks of private institutions, withholding a significant state benefit because of religious beliefs. It also discriminates against students, restricting their educational choices to those approved by the state.

It will be interesting to see whether the law can withstand a federal constitutional challenge. The Supreme Court in 1981 ruled that when the state denies an important benefit because of “conduct mandated by religious belief, thereby putting substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs, a burden upon religion exists.”

Interesting indeed. Seems to me these private organizations should not be lumped in with other state run organizations. It would benefit the state to keep funding them because they “sell a product.” They offer education and other services to people who want to better themselves in a religious setting. This, in the long term, will benefit society more than, say, a welfare program.

And the institutions benefit because they can do more with more money, such as hire better quality professors.

It was a win-win. But now its a win-lose.

“Ahnold” has been pretty good in Cally. I’d give him a C+. But this gets test gets an F. The bill should be amended to exclude private run organizations. I’m all for police protection and food stamps for all in need since these are 100% state-run programs, but private organizations should have the right to discriminate. That’s the point of being private. If the bill is not overturned, then these groups will be better off not depending on the state’s money. Because it simply means the state does not value the product or service it gets for its money.

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