Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ADF offers its own version of prevarication over California legislation

Gregory S. Baylor
Greg Baylor, a lawyer with Alliance Defending Freedom must have a different copy of California senate bill 1146. Based upon his version one Christian outlet verbosely headlines the story as: “Legal Expert: California Religious Liberty Threat ‘Most Significant’ Ever: Proposed Legislation Seeks to Cripple Faith-Based Higher Education in California.” Baylor goes on to state:
I’ve been practicing religious freedom law for about 20 years now and I believe this bill is one of the most significant threats that there has ever been to religious freedom.
Evan Wilt of World News Service goes on to write (possibly with guidance from Mr. Baylor):
SB 1146 attaches new components to the anti-discrimination requirements for Cal-Grants, the largest state-funded student financial aid program. Cal-Grants award students between $6,000 and $12,000 to help pay tuition at any accredited college or university in the state. Under the bill’s current language, faith-based schools would no longer be eligible for Cal-Grants.

Both of those statements are demonstrably false:

This bill would require an institution that claims an exemption from either the Equity in Higher Education Act or Title IX to make specified disclosures to the institution’s current and prospective students, faculty members, and employees, and to the Student Aid Commission, concerning the institution’s claim for the exemption. The bill would require the commission to collect the information it receives and post and maintain a list on the commission’s Internet Web site of all institutions claiming the exemption and their respective bases for claiming the exemption.
Where is the threat to religious liberty? Where does that say anything about losing state grants? What are these people talking about? Back to Mr. Baylor:
We would never say the Catholic church can’t require its priests to be Catholic but that’s essentially what this bill does.
No it does not. In point of fact there was some troubling language in the original bill. Changes were made on June 23 and again on June 29 to address those issues. Just to put this in perspective, according to the analysis done by the Assembly Higher Education Committee:
According to the HRC report, six California colleges have requested a Title IX exemption from the USDE. Based on information available from CSAC, four of these institutions participate in the Cal Grant Program: Biola University, Fresno Pacific University, Simpson University, and William Jessup University.
The bill's original intent—I concede—was to force these religious schools to comply with nondiscrimination laws affecting LGBT students and employees. All of that language has been scrubbed and we are left with a bill that does nothing more than require disclosures.

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