Losing Faith in Federal FundingThe vast majority of colleges and universities in North America have a deeply religious history. But one doesn’t have to be a sociologist to realize that that ship left the dock a long time ago. Few schools remain faithful to their founding mission.
Secularization has caused a slumber to fall upon the nation advancing a mythology that some “neutral” worldview is not only possible but preferable. If the academy can be rigidly aligned with the latest progressive ideologies it will be best for all involved. Except for when it’s not.
What’s going in California right now is a perfect example. The California Senate Bill 1146 is expected to pass the Assembly and appear before the governor before the end of the year. If you’ve not kept up with this development you’re not alone. The media has largely ignored it. To summarize as briefly as possible, the heart of the issue is the right of Christian colleges or universities to enforce enrollment standards that are in keeping with their religious convictions.
Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Seminary, describes Senate Bill 1146 as “the biggest threat to Christian higher education in the history of the United States of America.” He summarizes the issue this way, “Senate Bill 1146 would effectively strip religious colleges and universities of any right to discriminate on the basis of LGBT issues or even on the basis of religious conviction.” The Master’s Seminary, a theological seminary in California, describes the bill as “an imminent attack on religious liberty.” Christians living in any state need to pay close attention.
While there are numerous implications of this legislation, especially since what happens in California courts rarely stays in California, one consequence is that low income students who are conservative Christians may lose access to much needed federal assistance. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention explains, “If SB 1146 were to pass, it would deny students’ ability to participate in state grant programs—programs that exist to help low-income students, and which are overwhelmingly used by racial minorities—at schools that are found in violation of the bill.”
I’m proud to be one of many research fellows serving at the ERLC. I will also say that I enthusiasticly signed their recent statement calling for the defense of Christian higher education. I would encourage you to prayerfully consider doing the same. You can access and sign the article here.
May God bless our country and grant us gospel opportunities even at the expense of federal funds. We cannot comprise our convictions for the sake of state subsidies. The command to make disciples did not come with a promise of government aid. It’s true that Jesus said to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” but we can’t miss the inverse of that pronouncement: We must render unto God what rightfully belongs to Him. Caesar can keep his money.