Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill on Sunday that would otherwise have forced Christian organizations and institutions to face a devastating choice: Betray your faith or be prosecuted by the state.
Jonathan Keller, president of California Family Council, explains to Stuart Shepard in the Family Policy Briefing why AB 569 would have brought so much trouble to the state. Specifically, it aimed to criminalize any contracts or employee codes of conduct related to abortion and sex outside of marriage.
“Every organization that promotes a pro-life message must be able to require its employees to practice what they preach,” Keller said. “The right to freely exercise one’s religion is enshrined in our Constitution, and has always protected every American’s ability to freely associate around shared beliefs and practices.”
SB 1146 would have seriously restricted the religious freedoms of Christian institutions. On Wednesday, the author removed a provision that would have allowed students to sue “private institutions if they are disciplined for violating church teachings,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I don’t want to just rush a bill that’s going to have unintended consequences,” said Sen. Ricardo Lara, “so I want to take a break to really study this issue further.”
Jonathan Keller with the California Family Council, one of Family Policy Alliance’s nearly 40 state-based groups, said he was pleased with the move.
“This is certainly a victory for both religious liberty and student choice,” he said. “We are exceedingly grateful to our many coalition partners from local, state, and national organizations who have worked tirelessly to educate Californians to the dangers of SB 1146.”
Left in the legislation is a requirement for private schools to report the names of students expelled for violating morality codes. Sen. Lara said that would give him all the information to determine whether schools are “discriminating.”
Keller says the bill is likely to come back in 2017 and that churches and Christians should be prepared to push back again.
“While we remain cautious of any additional amendments before of the August 31 deadline,” Keller explained, “the current language of SB 1146 seems to recognize the value of faith-based schools in educating California’s underserved minority populations.”