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10/1/16: Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 1146 initiating State control over religion

 

SAVECALIFORNIA.COM NEWS RELEASE

October 1, 2016 -- For Immediate Release

Gov. Jerry Brown signs SB 1146 initiating State control over religion
Thomasson: "There must be a First Amendment lawsuit to strike down SB 1146 and restore respect for our precious constitutional rights."
 
Sacramento, California -- Among the final round of bills signed September 30 by California Governor Jerry Brown is SB 1146, which initiates State control over religion by placing the State in a new role of judging religious matters on religious property. 
 
SaveCalifornia.com, a veteran pro-child, pro-family organization that promotes moral virtues for the common good, is calling for a First Amendment lawsuit against SB 1146 to protect the free exercise of religion of faith-based college, universities, seminaries, and bible schools.
 
"SB 1146 is a blatant violation of 'separation of church and state,'" said Randy Thomasson, president of SaveCalifornia.com, which fought against SB 1146 to the end, using paid ads reaching hundreds of thousands of concerned Californians. "For the first time in California, religious matters on religious property will be judged by the government. If you don't want a State government religion, this is a frightening new development. When government regulates religion, government has become the new 'god.'"
 
"Despite an outpouring of opposition from concerned citizens who know that free exercise of religion is in the U.S. and California constitutions, Jerry Brown ignored the supreme laws he's repeatedly sworn to uphold," Thomasson said. "For current religious freedom to be protected, there must be a First Amendment lawsuit to strike down SB 1146 and restore respect for our precious constitutional rights."
 
"It's wrong for the State of California to steal away territory from sacred ground, effectively making the State the new 'moral' authority over religion," Thomasson said. "This is why a half-dozen religious colleges urged a veto of SB 1146 in the final days before Brown took action. They believe in the U.S. and California constitutions and religious diversity, even if Jerry Brown and the Democrats who passed SB 1146 don't."
 
See SaveCalifornia.com's analysis of SB 1146, as signed by Governor Brown: 
 
SB 1146, as amended August 19, still harms religious freedom.
 
The August 19 amendments to SB 1146 still contain most of the problematic sections of the bill, which continue to harm religious freedom by giving the State unprecedented, unconstitutional, and subjective control over religious matters.
 
As such, SB 1146 violates "separation of church and state" and the religious freedom guarantees of both the U.S. and California constitutions. 
 
A new 8/19/16 amendment made the bill worse. Even though current state law says a religious organization is in control of its postsecondary educational institution, SB 1146 now puts the State in control -- by requiring a religious college that is exempt under Education Code § 66271 to justify "its basis for having the exemption."
 
Inserted is Section 2(a)(2), reading: "Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, each postsecondary educational institution in this state not described in subdivision (a) that has an exemption pursuant to Section 66271 shall submit to the Student Aid Commission its basis for having the exemption."
 
Yet Education Code § 66271 reads: "This chapter shall not apply to an educational institution that is controlled by a religious organization if the application would not be consistent with the religious tenets of that organization."
 
Why must a church now justify its own religious doctrines to the State? Is the religious organization in control of its educational institution, as Section 66271 recognizes - or is the State in control of it?
 
Why is the State even examining the "religious tenets" of religious colleges?
 
The previous problems in SB 1146 remain and were not removed by the latest amendments.
 
The amended SB 1146 continues to state:
 
Section 1(a): Exempt religious colleges "shall disclose ... the scope of the allowable activities provided by the exemption."
  
  • What if all "allowable activities" aren't listed and disclosed? 
  • Or, what if all non-"allowable activities" aren't listed and disclosed? 
  • How would the State objectively judge whether "the scope of allowable activities" listed by religious colleges means some - or means all - of these religious colleges' "allowable" or non-"allowable" activities? 
  • What if a religious college disciplined a student for violating a religious standard that was not mentioned in the scope-of-activities-list provided to the State?
 
SB 1146's mandate upon religious colleges -- "shall disclose ... the scope of allowable activities provided by the exemption" -- creates a dangerous new government power to subjectively inspect, judge, and enforce compliance of religious colleges as to what is "allowable" or not "allowable" on campus.
 
The amended SB 1146 continues to state:
 
Section 1(b)(1-4): "The disclosure required ... shall be made in all of the following ways ... a prominent location of the campus or school site ... in written materials sent to prospective students ... as part of orientation programs ... provided to each faculty member ... administrative staff ... support staff ... each new employee..."
 
  • What if the disclosure isn't satisfactorily posted, presented, or delivered in the eyes of the State? 
  • What if the disclosure isn't viewed by the State as being complete or accurate? 
  • What mechanism is there to verify receipt, so as to avoid future non-receipt claims?
 
The amended bill's requirement that exempt religious colleges "shall" post and distribute their religious standards will be enforced by the State's subjective interpretations, due to the bill's vagueness. This sets up religious colleges for inspections, complaints, and even lawsuits claiming the information was never provided (the bill has no receipt mechanism).
 
The amended SB 1146 continues to state:
 
Section 1(b)(5): "The disclosure shall be included in any publication of the institution that sets forth the comprehensive rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct for the institution."
  
  • What if the "the scope of allowable activities" in the disclosure is unsatisfactory in substance, format, or completeness in the eyes of the State? 
  • Will there be inspections, search warrants, or lawsuits to compel "proper" publishing?
 
The bill's mandate that these religious colleges publish their moral codes in "any publication" on the topic invites State inspections, search warrants, or lawsuits. Will the State compel "proper" publishing if the Student Aid Commission or California Attorney General isn't satisfied with a religious college's "compliance"?
 
The amended SB 1146 continues to state:
 
Section 2(a): Exempt religious colleges "shall submit to the Student Aid Commission copies of all materials submitted to, and received from, a state or federal agency concerning the granting of the exemption."
  
  • Why is the State requiring more than the U.S. government's letter granting a religious exemption to Title IX? For example, the State routinely recognizes IRS letters granting tax-exemption to nonprofit organizations. Why the requirement to also submit "all" of the application materials submitted by a religious college that already has a Title IX exemption? 
  • What if the State suspects not "all" materials have been provided to it by religious colleges claiming a federal or state exemption? What kind of inspections, search warrants, or lawsuits could occur?
 
The bill's mandate that exempt religious colleges provide to the State "all" their application papers for an already-established exemption makes the State a judge of the quality and validity of religious exemptions. It puts the State into the role of an investigator and enforcer on religious matters.
 
The amended SB 1146 continues to state:
 
Section 2(b): "The Student Aid Commission shall collect the information received pursuant to subdivision (a) and post and maintain a list on the commission's Internet Web site of the institutions that have claimed the exemption with their respective bases for claiming or having the exemption."
  
  • Why should the State be elevated to a position of judging the moral policies of religious colleges, which, under SB 1146, must try to justify "their respective bases for claiming or having the exemption"? 
  • On the state website, will exempt colleges be labeled negatively or disparaged?
 
By requiring religious institutions to justify their exemption, the State makes itself a judge of the religious doctrines/ beliefs/practices of religious colleges, which, under SB 1146, must attempt to justify to the State "their respective bases for claiming the exemption." This subjective mandate creates an official State prejudice against exempt colleges, and in regard to Title IX exemptions, has the State acting as if state law were supreme to federal law. As written, SB 1146 clearly violates "separation of church and state."
 
* * *
 
"As written, SB 1146 hands over inspection and control of sacred things to the government," said Thomasson, who has 22 years of California legislative experience. "SB 1146 violates the spirit and the letter of both the U.S. and state constitutions, which guarantee the free exercise of religion and prohibit the State from interfering with religion. SB 1146 puts government in charge of religion, judging what is sin, love, moral, biblical, or proper. SB 1146 begins the process of government taking over religion, a very dangerous precedent in a free society. It must be overturned for our current religious freedoms to be preserved."
 
Campaign for Children and Families
P.O. Box 511, Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 265-5650
savecalifornia.com
 
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SaveCalifornia.com is a leading West Coast nonprofit, nonpartisan organization standing strong for moral virtues for the common good. We represent children and families in the areas of marriage and family, parental rights, the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, financial freedom, and back-to-basics education.

 



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