A California bill targeting religious colleges and universities that hold to Biblical teachings on sexuality and marriage has sparked outrage among Christian and Hispanic advocacy groups, who released a joint letter on Tuesday warning the legislation could entirely eliminate religious education in the state.
California Senate Bill 1146, introduced in February by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, could make Christian universities susceptible to lawsuits from homosexual and transgender students. The bill seeks to minimize the number of California colleges and universities that are able to claim exemptions from federal Title IX anti-discrimination law, applying the exemption only to seminaries and schools of divinity.
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance," Title IX reads in part.
The bill also requires religious colleges that get state funds to disclose their religious beliefs about homosexuality to applicants as well as to display on campus their exemption from anti-discrimination law.
In introducing SB 1146, Sen. Lara said the bill would "close a loophole" in state law that gives postsecondary religious institutions a "license to discriminate."
In response, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference issued a joint statement on Tuesday warning that the bill would "eliminate religious education in California."
"In representation of the Hispanic citizens of California, we oppose SB 1146. As Democrats and Republicans, we believe the bill is an unconstitutional overreach that would threaten religious liberty in California, would harm faith-based institutions, and would weaken the rich educational diversity of our state."
"At a minimum, if passed, this bill would substantially interfere with the ability of California's faith-based colleges and universities to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with their beliefs. This bill would make religious institutions vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits and unprecedented government policing."
The letter, signed by 20 Hispanic faith and community leaders, also said that the law has the potential to remove faith-based higher learning completely.
"We are urging our communities to stand themselves in opposition to this bill while also urging California officials to vote 'no' to SB 1146. Our children and grandchildren would bear the brunt of this decision, and we oppose it emphatically," it concludes.
Historically, the federal law has applied to discrimination against women and in situations related to girls who desire to participate in sports programs. However, LifeSiteNews reports that recently, the Department of Education announced it interprets Title IX exemptions as also applying to "gender identity" and sexual orientation.
Fox News notes that the legislation has already passed the Senate and is expected to clear hurdles in the Assembly.