Why We Are Fighting in California

What are we actually fighting to preserve, and why is it worth preserving?

“I serve as president of Biola University, one of the faith-based institutions in California whose religious freedom is threatened by SB 1146. Biola has joined nearly 30 other California institutions in opposing the bill, and we’ve put together videos and a website to help explain the nature of the threat.”

 

A proposed California bill (SB 1146) is making headlines this summer as the latest in America’s ongoing religious liberty balancing act. The government wants to protect individuals from discrimination while also protecting the First Amendment rights of individuals and groups to freely exercise their religion.

SB 1146 is a bill that seeks to protect LGBT students from discrimination; in reality, though, it would unfairly discriminate against faith-based colleges seeking to live consistently with their Christian convictions.

I serve as president of Biola University, one of the faith-based institutions in California whose religious freedom is threatened by SB 1146. Biola has joined nearly 30 other California institutions in opposing the bill, and we’ve put together videos and a website to help explain the nature of the threat.

The website headline reads: Oppose SB 1146. Preserve Faith-Based Higher Education. But what are we actually fighting to preserve, and why is it worth preserving?

Why We’re Fighting

Contrary to some assumptions, we are not primarily fighting to preserve access to government funding. Nor are we fighting for our own jobs or some sort of privilege or relevance in society. And though a common narrative on these matters is that we are fighting for the “license to discriminate,” this is also not true. We are fighting to preserve the preserving institutions that are critical to the mission of the church, the health of our democracy, and the flourishing of the world.

In opposing bills like SB 1146 (and others that will come), we are fighting not for our own institutional survival but for the survival of things far bigger than we are.

We are fighting for the preservation of a confident and coherent Christianity, one that’s passed on to the next generation intact and not redefined according to the cultural zeitgeist. We are fighting for the preservation of institutions that espouse and practice biblical visions of human flourishing, even when those visions look very different from their secular counterparts.

We are fighting to preserve alternative modes of living in the world: Christlike modes where love for others is more important than our own comfort; where obedience to God trumps personal autonomy and communal identity trumps individualism. In an increasingly cutthroat world full of persons and nations only looking out for their own interests, we want to preserve the Jesus ethic that sacrifices for others and seeks first the kingdom of God. In a time of rapid change and great uncertainty, we want to preserve something solid and time-tested; something that will outlast the ephemeral fads and philosophies du jour.

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