Wednesday, August 30th, 2006
What!? Caesar's Money Has Strings Attached?
Vox Day recently quoted an article from WorldNetDaily that stated the following:
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has tossed out all sexual moral conduct codes at colleges, private and Christian schools, daycare centers and other facilities throughout his state, if the institutions have any students who get state assistance.
The governor yesterday signed a bill that would require all businesses and groups receiving state funding -- even if it's a state grant for a student -- to condone homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexuality.
There is no exception for faith-based organizations or business owners with sincerely held religious convictions, critics note.
How do you expect a law to read that has been introduced like this? When I read that such schools must "condone" these practices, it sounds like there is a set speech that each professor must read to students that says such practices are right.
Yet when I went to find the bill, it read quite differently. I won't say that I support the bill. But I would prefer coverage that actually quoted the bill and then explained how the language of the bill was likely to be enforced. Text of the bill can be found here
The language that bothers people is probably in the opening paragraph:
No person in the State of California shall, on the
basis of race, national origin, ethnic group identification,
religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, color, or disability, be
unlawfully denied full and equal access to the benefits of, or be
unlawfully subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity
that is conducted, operated, or administered by the state or by any
state agency, is funded directly by the state, or receives any
financial assistance from the state. Notwithstanding Section 11000,
this section applies to the California State University.
My first question would be whether the fact that a university continued to offer a gay student services meant that they "condoned" their activity. I find this formulation odd. My next question would be whether the church college could still read the warning passages from Romans and offer a traditional interpretation. If so, then continuing to offer services means that a gay student continues to hear that his or her conduct is sinful. That doesn't sound like "condoning" to me. In some schools it may be quite condemning.
But this issue, when you tease it out, really has to do with the nature of the state's involvement in education in a broader sense. That these groups are suddenly bothered now as if a really new element had entered into the equation strikes me as disingenuous. Either that, or these people are really stupid.
The assumption is that the Christian school could not continue to operate without state funding. Whether or not this is true, certain things must be admitted here. When you do accept state funding, the state does have an interest in how its money is used. If it offers a gay student a grant, in hopes that said student can graduate and get a job upon graduation, this is thwarted if said student is kicked out of school. The state has some interest in seeing students who receive aid graduate. They aren't "condoning" behavior, but protecting an investment.
And the "render unto Caesar" passage comes into play here. Remember the situation in which Jesus said it. He was asked it if was "lawful" to pay taxes to Caesar. He asked whose image was on the coin in question. Caesar's image was on the coin. These hypocrites were using Caesar's money, and then saying that it couldn't be given back to him. If they were using only their own coinage, the question would have had a different answer.
Likewise here. These Christian schools are like the Israelites of old. They are playing with Caesar's money, and then balking at whether they can listen to Caesar when he gets specific about something he wants done with it. There is a simple answer here. If you really want to offer a distinctly Christian education, then don't go playing Caesar's game. You can't jump through all the other hoops that say an education has to be thus and so, where your education is so interchangeable with a state university that almost nobody could tell from the catalogue that it was anything other than a modern education, and then say you can't jump through this last hoop. Sure you can. Your real goal was to get into the business of offering a modern education, which really exists to assure employers that these are the kinds of people they wish to hire. It's a kind of socialization.
The governor has not signed anything that would stop a Christian group from receiving money to have students follow a teacher around the town asking questions, or to teach those students to chant the liturgy, or to read the Bible in Greek and Hebrew, or to fly them out to build houses in Africa. Christian education is still possible.
I am especially disgusted by the following, from the same original article:
"The gates of hell are prevailing against the church," Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, told WorldNetDaily. "It's because Christian colleges and churches have ignored the political process for so long. Now the political process, absent religious values, is coming back to assault the church."
One wonders how Randy Thomasson came out of school so Biblically illiterate. We have a Scriptural promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matthew 16:18), and here Randy says they are prevailing against it. Either he is wrong, or the Bible is wrong. If the latter, one has to wonder why he cares so much about its standards being upheld.
His interpretation is also laughable. Was receiving all this state money an ignoring of the political process? No. It was an entanglement in the political process. The solution is not becoming more political than the political. That solution ignores the sage political advice of Lord Acton: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." To imagine that further politicization is the solution assures me that we have worse to fear than that some gay students might graduate from a Christian school. Unless it is one of Randy Thomasson's schools where such a student would be made into a hard-boiled politician.
I am not a supporter of the bill in question. I think it may be written for either legitimate or nefarious ends. Further, as a libertarian I think that it assumes a socialistic understanding of money. It isn't that I don't see this, but that I think this is where any political battle needs to be fought. Either disentangle yourself from state money, or fight to ensure that the state has a just concept of responsibility and contracts. But don't buy into the current model of how everything else is done and then cry fowl because in this one area you can no longer act as a moral gatekeeper. That is to try to close the stable door after the horses have bolted. (Or to cry because you will no longer be paid to.)
11:23 am Pacific Standard Time
[ posted by Rick Ritchie | 14 comments | Permalink ]