The Cardinal Newman Society welcomes amendments announced yesterday to offensive legislation in California — Senate Bill (SB) 1146 — aimed at curtailing the religious freedom of Catholic and other faith-based colleges in the state. The welcome retreat of California legislators from one portion of SB 1146 is an acknowledgment of the bill’s highly discriminatory intent. The portion of the bill that remains is equally discriminatory against Catholics and a vindictive action against colleges that have legally and appropriately protected their religious freedom.
The Newman Society joined in a multi-faith statement released this week opposing the bill, and has been warning of its threat to religious freedom for the past few months. The bill was specifically crafted to target Catholic and other faith-based colleges for holding to their religious principles on issues dealing with human sexuality and sexual activity. The author of the bill, Sen. Ricardo Lara, even admitted as much.
While Lara is dropping the part of SB 1146 that would have eliminated legal protections for religious colleges, he’s pushing ahead with the section requiring colleges to “out” themselves as having requested an exemption to state and federal nondiscrimination provisions. The intent of this section of the bill to publicly “shame” faith-based colleges for holding to their religious principles is still quite disturbing.
Not just Catholics in California, but Catholics across the country — and every American — should be concerned that this blatantly discriminatory piece of legislation made it through the California Senate and almost through the Assembly. Our First Amendment religious freedoms are being eroded and made to submit to a radical agenda aimed at forcing religious institutions and people of faith to embrace and promote sexual attractions, identities and behaviors that are disordered or immoral.
Catholic colleges and schools have a primary responsibility to form young people by leading them to truth — and to the ultimate source of truth, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the truth is not popular in our society right now, so we can expect continued legal and cultural attempts to subvert our religious freedom. People of faith must continue to stand firm against these threats, and must continue to support Catholic colleges and schools in their mission to form students in the truth of Christ.