Protecting Religious Schools

Throughout the 2016 legislative session, we cautioned religious schools were at risk.  We warned about the impending threats to Christian and other faith-based colleges from government as a result of those institutions’ contrary stance to the now-prevailing sexual dogma of “the only fixed standard is that no one may adhere to any fixed standards.”  

We raised the issue of how much religious schools stood to lose in the volatile post-Obergefell environment – like the potential for losing licenses, accreditation, tax-exempt status, TAG grants for Virginia students, etc. – all for merely staying true to long-established and fundamental religious doctrines. 

We urged the Governor to sign legislation passed by both the House and the Senate that would prevent an imminent Hobson’s Choice for religious schools across the Commonwealth. He declined, somehow chalking up the bill as being “bad for business”.

Now only a few months removed, in exactly one of the main ways we predicted, already one state – California – is poised to put into law a bill (SB 1146), which would prevent a student from otherwise receiving state-awarded “Cal Grant” funds toward the cost of their education at institutions that do not hire employees or accept student applicants whose “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” would violate the schools’ religious tenets. The bill also provides a basis for those individuals to file lawsuits against the institution, potentially costing them millions.

We can be confident that it’s only a matter of time until a Virginia legislator puts forward the same bill. I’d be shocked if there wasn’t one already in the pipeline for the upcoming 2017 session.

For reasons that should be obvious, it is critical that we protect the right of religious schools to carry out their mission without being unfairly targeted and discriminated against by their government. In Virginia, that includes 27 religiously affiliated colleges and universities like Liberty, Regent, Patrick Henry, Christendom, Bluefield, and others. Virginia also has 968 private primary and secondary schools educating 136,323 students, 51% of which are religiously affiliated. 

Hopefully, with California likely to begin putting its religiously affiliated schools on the chopping block, Terry McAuliffe will readily see that the only thing “bad for business” in this equation is the very real possibility of 27 colleges and roughly 494 K-12 schools in Virginia (read: 500+ businesses) closing their doors rather than bowing down to the king’s golden “statute”.