William Jessup University, along with other faith based schools, is thankful that Senator Lara amended SB1146 to remove the most objectionable portions of his bill. We are also thankful that thousands of students, many of them persons of color and first generation college students, can now continue to attend the faith based schools of their choosing where they can receive a faith affirming and safe college education without fear of loss of the Cal Grant available to all California college students. The Senator had previously indicated a willingness to work with the faith based institutions; we would hope this would be the case in the future for the sake of all college students.
We are not lulled into complacency by this decision, though we welcome the settlement. We remain vigilant to protect constitutional religious liberties while continuing to serve all those students who voluntarily choose to attend our schools. Faith based schools in California contribute greatly to the higher education and public good of our State and we look forward to continuing to produce graduates who participate economically and with kindness and compassion in communities across our state and world.
John Jackson, PhD
The passage of this SB1146 denies William Jessup University and other faith-based universities and colleges in California the ability to function based on religious beliefs and constitutional principles, by limiting the university’s religious exemption (and liberties) as it relates to LGBT and Title IX, but it ends up having a chilling effect by limiting campus prayer, chapel, and religious service across our campuses.
Whether by phone, email or twitter please contact your assembly member: Identify yourself and express that you have strong concerns about SB 1146. Share your concerns about the narrowing of religious freedom this bill would impose on William Jessup University and all of California’s faith-based colleges and universities
On behalf of seven faith-based college and university presidents representing over 10,000 students a joint letter was drafted outlining significant concerns regarding Senate Bill 1146.
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. Use Social media. Express your concerns about the bill on social media using hashtag #SB1146. Click here for sample tweet.
Step #2 — Contact Your Legislators
Click here to find your assembly member and their contact information (or click here for Jessup’s quick assembly member list, complete with twitter usernames). Whether by phone or email, the message is simple: Identify yourself and express that you have strong concerns about SB 1146. Share your concerns about the narrowing of religious freedom this bill would impose on William Jessup University and all of California’s faith-based colleges and universities.
Step #3 — Pray
Pray for this moment in California history when our deeply held beliefs are being challenged. 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.
Step #4 — Donate
Make a contribution to the Jessup Religious Liberty Fund, as we represent (and defend) our religious liberties. Make a donation and/or pledge today. All contributions are 100% tax deductible and will be receipted; WJU is a 501-c3 not for profit organization.Updates on the status of SB 1146 will be posted here as we receive them. Please check back regularly to stay informed..
California’s State Senate recently passed a bill that limits religious liberties for all California Christian Colleges and Universities, and that same bill is now pending approval in the Assembly. The bill labeled SB 1146 is a flawed bill that denies faith based universities in California the ability to function based on religious beliefs and constitutional principles.
Although this may not be the intention of state Sen. Ricardo Lara (DBell Gardens) and colleagues, the bill is discriminatory and violates the First Amendment and freedom of religion that we are promised in our nation and state. For those familiar with SB 1146, the overall assumption is that the bill protects LGBT students against discrimination at private Christian universities. However, this perception serves merely as a Red herring leading audiences toward a false conclusion based upon discrimination and ultimately omitting the devastating impact upon constitutional freedoms.
Tens of thousands of students in California, many of them first generation college students and people of various nationalities, will potentially have their college of choice removed from the menu due to this bill.
SB 1146 seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California to only those schools that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This effectively eliminates the religious liberty of all California faith based universities that integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience.
Prayer, chapel services, spiritual formation groups and required public service are all integral parts of the educational experience on faith based campuses. In the name of “transparency and recourse,” the bill opens up the pathway for harassment lawsuits when the universities simply go about the integrated spiritual experience of their shared life.
Students choose to attend faith-based universities because they find a place of safety and freedom. The universities provide residential facilities that are clearly delineated by gender and supported by a loving and caring student life staff. Faith based universities in California work hard at providing their students a diverse, respectful, safe and challenging environment to learn and prepare for service and vocation in life. The passage of SB 1146 seeks to destroy that time honored foundation.
Our country was founded upon principles of religious liberty that enable people to express their religious convictions in their lives, including the environment where they study and grow.
If passed, SB 1146 would undercut the very fabric of higher education, which advocates for diversity of opinion and freedom of discourse. For faith based universities, the educational and religious missions are intertwined and the separation of the two would destroy the framework of our institutions. William Jessup University in Rocklin and other similar universities in the state continue to urge reasonable dialogue and implore political and educational leaders to join with all Californians in creating an environment where grace, kindness and civil discourse can coexist with strong sentiment on matters of great importance.
The passage of SB 1146 would have a profound negative impact upon all California faith based students and the universities that have successfully integrated higher education with spirituality. Therefore we advocate a No vote on SB 1146 and urge the Governor not to sign the bill should it make its way to his desk.
John Jackson, Ph.D.
SB 1146 (1) Limits “religious exemption” to only the training of ministerial students, (2) mandates that a Title IX waiver be displayed, propagated to all students and employees applicants, (3) mandates that each waiver must be annually disclosed to the California State Aid Commission.
This bill narrows religious liberties for religious, faith-based and Christian. By limiting the religious exemption to only students trained for ministerial purposes, this bill reduces (narrows, limits and removes) previous Constitutionally protected religious exemption(s).
This bill functionally eliminates the religious liberties and missions of all California faith-based universities and colleges who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience; i.e., prayer, chapel services, spiritual formation groups, required public service and separated male/female residential living.
The passage of SB 1146 will lead to numerous lawsuits challenging faith-based policies, beliefs and biblical stances regarding sexuality, gender and behavior related to the institution’s student code of conduct.
In addition to the First Amendment issues at play (freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly), William Jessup University believes this bill’s end result undercuts the very fabric of higher education and religious mission, which advocate for diversity of opinion and the freedom of discourse and disagreement.
Jessup provides a quality university experience in a Christ-centered context. Students and Faculty and Staff who are part of the Jessup experience choose to voluntarily enter a community of faith and learning.
We are thankful and grateful for the First Amendment protections we enjoy here in the United States and will vigorously defend those protections for our community and for others who are similarly affected.
We value a student’s right to choose among a diverse array of higher education options in our pluralistic California. We offer an education incorporating the intellectual and the spiritual (Biblical) that cannot be separated in any of our disciplines. There are many California students that desire only that option, and we make it available to them. Families and students have chosen faith-based education and to remove that choice from them is a severe public loss for our State.
We value education that fosters in students not just facts and skills and practical knowledge, but faith, wonder and God’s glory. This is why rhythms and rituals of worship are integrated into the lives of our campuses. In today’s cynical and pragmatic age we want to foster an approach to higher education that is more than credentialing, the imparting of technical facts or providing of roadmaps for material gain.
We value academic excellence, marked by rigorous inquiry, diversity of opinion and freedom of discourse in all disciplines. We teach and research in all disciplines, and our graduates become leaders in their fields. Our faculty are student-focused and care for their whole being, both intellectual and spiritual. None of the programs and activities we offer can be separated from our religious mission and beliefs and in all of our programs we seek to train students for ministry through their vocation.
We value transparency so that our community members are fully informed of our mission, ethos, conduct expectations, and values as they consider which higher education institution they want to attend. To that end, we have long maintained our mission statements, key policies and institutional statements on faith and behavioral expectations on our publicly available websites. And we are willing to provide prospective students, others in the community who want to know more about us, and CSAC with information about the extent to which our religious mission exempts us from laws and regulations. We have never withheld this information.
As a Christian institution of higher education, part of our mission and contribution to the common good of society is that we value, foster and preserve distinctly Christian ways of thinking and living. Yet, we believe that a thriving American pluralism is an inclusive pluralism, not merely accommodating difference but celebrating it, recognizing that a heterogenous society is stronger when for example, Jewish institutions can remain deeply Jewish in study and allegiance to the Torah, Muslim communities can remain faithful to the Quran and Christian communities can live according to their long-held Biblical beliefs, even when those beliefs are out-of-step with the mainstream of society. The robust Christian thought and life that happens in a distinct way on our campus is not just good for Christianity. It’s good for a society that weakens insofar as the marketplace of ideas shrinks or becomes homogenous and intolerant of minority (moral/religious) viewpoints.