Calif. Legislation Imposes Employment Mandates on Religious Orgs; Passes Assembly

(Kaylee McGhee, Liberty Headlines) Religious groups are fighting legislation in California that would bar employers from firing workers for having an abortion or a child out of wedlock.

Brad Dacus photo

Brad Dacus Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

The bill’s opponents said Assembly Bill (AB) 569 seeks to eliminate the discretion of employers. They said AB 569 is particularly discriminatory against religious organizations that hold their employees to a standard of conduct consistent with their missions.

“The bill would specifically deny religious employers our 1st Amendment protections to infuse our codes of conduct with the tenets of our faith,” said Sandra Palacios of the California Catholic Conference.

Under the bill, employers would be prohibited from using disciplinary action due to a reproductive health decision, such as pregnancy or abortions.

Support for the bill follows recent events in the state of California. In 2012, a professor at a Christian college in San Diego was fired for becoming pregnant while unmarried. The school said her pregnancy violated the employee code of conduct, which prohibited premarital sex.

Proponents for the bill said it would set a necessary precedent in the state of California and in the country.

“Right now, while we’re facing a federal government that is attacking reproductive freedom at every turn and condoning the type of discrimination that this bill prohibits, we feel like this is the time for California to take a stand for our values and make sure that our workers have the best protections possible,” Rebecca Griffin of NARAL Pro-Choice California, a sponsor of the measure, said at a Wednesday afternoon hearing at the Capitol.

Religious groups, however, argue that these codes of conducts are integral to the relationship to their employees. Pacific Justice Institute said the bill would undermine the missions of religious groups like pro-life churches, by allowing employees to live inconsistently with their values.

“An organization specifically chartered to support or oppose a specific set of beliefs or actions cannot fulfill its mission without requiring adherence to a code of conduct,” wrote Jonathan Keller, president of the conservative California Family Council, in an opposition letter.

The bill passed the California Assembly by a wide margin, 54-17. It is now in the Senate awaiting its next hearing. PJI said it will continue to oppose the bill and other measures like it.

“State-mandated hypocrisy is as illogical as it is unconstitutional. In communicating our fundamental values like the sanctity of life, both the message and messenger matter,” said Brad Dacus, president of PJI. “We shouldn’t listen to people who don’t practice what they preach, and we shouldn’t be required to employ them, either.”

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  • Irredeemably Deplorable

    This kind of thing really is out of bounds. I speak to “religious” organizations. Where in your bibles does it say you are given the right to dictate the behaviors of believers, or those you wish to follow your doctrines, outside scripture?

    Be careful judging people you claim you have jurisdiction over. If you are Christian, the fact that you have become “Christian” is proof that the only one qualified to judge you, decided not to, allowing you the mercies and grace to live instead of HIM taking HIS breath back from you. Be very careful, those of you considering yourselves to be holier than “anyone” else. Better go back and re-read your book.

    • Tired…

      I’m just curious: How does expecting an individual to maintain the ethical standard that they voluntarily agreed to maintain amount to judgment? There is nothing in the article to suggest that the individual in question was judged by the institution; she was merely found to be in violation of an agreement to which she consented to follow as a condition of her employment. What is offensive is the assumption that the government has a right to force individuals or institutions to violate their beliefs in favor of another’s.

      • Irredeemably Deplorable

        What is more amusing is the organization representing themselves as being “Christian” not practicing what their bible teaches them.

        Requiring people to adhere to a set of standards is one thing, refusing support, mercy, (and mos of all) the forgiveness required of them by the belief system they (the employer) agreed to when they took up the name of Christ, makes them hypocrites.

        But then, those who impose the crown of perfection, yet fail in their own practices has always been something Christ preached against.

        • Tired…

          I see that you chose to avoid answering my question so let’s try this a different way. As a parent, I can love my children and hold them accountable at the same time. The fact that I discipline them when they knowingly violate boundaries does not undermine the fact that I love them nor does is mean that I haven’t forgiven them. In other words, the concepts of forgiveness and accountability are not mutually exclusive.

          • Irredeemably Deplorable

            Actually, from a biblical perspective, you are incorrect.

          • Tired…

            Actually, just making a statement doesn’t make it so. It would be helpful if you would provide a logical argument as opposed to a dogmatic statement without support.

          • Irredeemably Deplorable

            Actually, yes.

          • Tired…

            You are making a habit out of avoiding a logical discussion. There is not point in descending into a sophomoric “did so/did not” argument, so good bye and I wish you well.

  • Tired…

    Thank you for pointing out the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street. That simple concept seems to be lost in contemporary America.

  • Tired…

    Your response makes a number of assumptions based on you perceptions, not on information contained in the article. The article does not provide information on her circumstances, the behind the door deliberations that took place before this decision was made or what attempts may have been made to provide assistance after she was let go. Judging people without adequate information benefits no one.

    While you emphasize forgiveness, and it is certainly important, the Bible also speaks to the importance of sexual purity, both before and after marriage. Should this lady be treated with compassion? Absolutely! People who call themselves Christians should surround her with support, healing, and restoration. In addition, if her partner was a member of the same institution, then he should be held to the same standard. However, the decision to offer support, healing, and restoration is incumbent upon individuals and the church body as a whole. While there is some overlap because this is a Christian College, the institution is separate from the church and has the right to maintain their ethical standards. If they do not, then they are being hypocritical. If mitigating circumstances such as those you mentioned above occurred, then they should certainly be taken into account. There is a tension here that thoughtful people should understand and seek to remediate with grace in mind.

    We agree that women who find themselves struggling should be supported with care and compassion, particularly by those who call themselves Christians. Where we disagree is the idea that the state has a right to force its view on religious institutions for enforcing a rule that is consistent with that religious body’s teaching and that the employee agreed to as a condition of their employment.

    • Irredeemably Deplorable

      We all have to make presumptions which include circumstances that aren’t included in the article. We are talking about human beings, most of which will suffer due to things seen while the other party is likely not going to be dealt with. That’s the issue I have.

      Reality is, most people in the organizations (including colleges) maintain a certain claim to “purity” while practicing a completely different thing in private. And that is why the state has to step in.

      I have seen too much reality to ignore what is really going on in this world. I really dislike having to be found on the side of the State of California on any issue. As a rule, their liberal nonsense is beyond reason or anything resembling coherent logic. However, this issue isn’t in the same category.

      If these colleges or organizations were to correctly and fairly apply their pious rules it would be different, but they don’t. Their arrogance and desire to control people is too often justified by a false narrative just a little investigation would uncover.

      I know how the state is. I know they shouldn’t have to be involved. But the religious organizations hold out an appearance that isn’t exactly “pure” in heart.

      We will have to agree to disagree on the belief that since it is an organization they can follow something other than the bible they claim to believe. If the organization doesn’t hold to the same standard those who attend their classes or are in their employ, are supposed to believe, then they shouldn’t have the freedom to determine whether someone should be allowed to attend or be fired based on that standard. As said, “We shouldn’t listen to people who don’t practice what they preach. . .”

      Again, California is an At-will employment state. There is no need to give a reason for terminating an employee, unless the employer is just wanting to engage in public humiliation of the person being terminated. That’s why the law should be in place restricting firing for those reasons.

      If you want to fire someone in California, don’t give a reason. You are not obligated to do so. Just fire them. Done, end of story. But don’t use your hypocritical rationale of the employee not living up to standards very few of the hierarchy live up to in reality.

      I live in the real world. I have been associated with people who run institutions and organizations. They aren’t as pure as they require others to be.