PJI Testifies to Support Bill To Protect Faith-Based Ministries

Sacramento, CA – The California legislature held hearings yesterday on a bill designed to protect faith-based organizations from government intrusion into hiring and membership decisions. The bill, sponsored by Pacific Justice Institute and carried by Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, was opposed at the hearing by the ACLU and its allies.

The bill, AB 1498, was written to ensure that faith-based organizations, receiving government grants for social services, would be allowed to continue making hiring and membership decisions based on their beliefs. The bill would not affect provision of services to the public, which would continue to be handled in a nondiscriminatory manner. AB 1498 was designed to counter the potentially devastating consequences of SB 1441, which was enacted last year and mandates that all persons and groups receiving any kind of government aid – even indirectly – must abide by the state’s pro-homosexual non-discrimination policies.

At a hearing yesterday, lawmakers in the Assembly Committee on Business and Professions heard from Assemblyman DeVore and PJI staff attorney Matthew McReynolds, as well as John Briscoe, an Eagle Scout and school board trustee in Orange County, and Dr. Ron Harden, president of Trinity Life Bible College. The committee was urged to affirm the value of faith-based education and social services, which have been jeopardized by the enactment of SB 1441. It was noted, for instance, that in Los Angeles County alone, approximately one-fourth of the licensed care providers for young children are faith-based.

Representatives from the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Equality California and the NAACP spoke in opposition to the bill. Ironically, it was even asserted that the bill to protect faith-based groups – at the expense of the gay rights agenda – should not be passed because it was the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ultimately, the bill was defeated 5-3, with two abstentions.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, stated, “It is disappointing that some lawmakers no longer recognize the value of faith-based social services and education. The government’s encroachment on even the hiring and membership practices of religious groups is alarming. We will continue to press for common-sense solutions so that those outstanding organizations, like church-affiliated groups, religious colleges and the Boy Scouts, can do their amazing work with as little government interference as possible.”