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Today we started the scientific sessions of the sixth International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition with an interesting keynote speaker, David Jacobs, Ph.D., the Mayo Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota. He decried the tendency of science to be reductionist and in particular regarding nutrition. Food, not nutrients, is the fundamental unit and diet patterns are more important than lists of nutrient targets because nutrients act synergistically, not in isolation. Food synergy is concerted action—multiple constituents in each food and multiple foods in a dietary pattern act together on health. Therefore, nutrition fosters health through diet and is very different from treating disease. He pointed out that drugs work through pathway interruptions. The actions of food are more complex than drugs, but are investigated as if they were simple, stating that "even a single morsel of food has thousands of compounds." He ended by amending Michael Pollan’s famous dietary recommendations to “eat real foods, mostly plants, not too much, in colorful variety, maximizing nutrients per bite.”
Probably the greatest emphasis in foods today was on research about nuts. Barbara Shukitt-Hale, Ph.D., from Tufts University, presented on the impact of both walnuts and blueberries on the brain in lab rats. Since the brain uses about 20% of the body’s oxygen, it has been assumed that the beneficial results found in many rat studies have been due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties of nuts. She presented a study that suggests that in addition to those indirect actions there are also direct effects on brain signaling, neurogenesis, branching of dendrites and recycling of cell debris (autophagy). The sweet spot in walnut consumption was equivalent in humans to an ounce a day—that amount had better outcomes than either more or fewer nuts. I was very interested to learn that they are starting a blueberry intervention study in humans between 60 and 75 years of age. It’s time that rats stop getting all the benefits.
Jondi Salas-Salvado from Spain pointed out that nuts eaten more than 7 times a week were correlated with an 18% reduction in hypertension. He presented that nuts reduce inflammation, oxidative stress, endothelial function, lower glycemic response, lower cholesterol, lower insulin resistance, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI). The data on some of these effects was stronger than others, but I opened a package of walnuts—given out by the California Walnut Commission at the conference—and ate them. It was encouraging to hear from several presenters that there is no association with weight gain in the nut studies, instead several of the studies show modest reductions in weight compared to the control group.
Richard Mattes, M.P.H., Ph.D., R.D., of Purdue University, pointed out that probably about 65% of the increase in nut calories are offset by effects on appetite suppression and a compensatory reduction in the intake of other foods. Inefficient absorption of nuts, particularly if not thoroughly masticated can account for another 30% or so.
Sharing from the Harvard Nurses Study, Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., stated that their data showed the highest weight gain over a 20-year period was associated with the intake of potato products, sugar sweetened beverages, meats, and processed meats. The lowest weight change was associated with vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fruit and yogurt. Diet quality, he said, is likely to influence diet quantity, so the recommendation should be not just to eat less, but to eat better. His additional comment about nuts was that a handful a day is beneficial for prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Loma Linda University's Gary Fraser, MBChB, Ph.D., the principle investigator of Adventist Health Study—2 gave his update. They are still collecting data on cancer and he thinks that in one more year they will have a large enough sample size to give some strength to the data. He says it is looking like a vegan diet may reduce the risk of all cancers, but most specifically female organ cancers. All the vegetarians in concert are showing about a 12% reduction in cancer compared to non-vegetarians. He also pointed out that it is not adequate to base a diet pattern only on the presence or absence of meat, eggs, and dairy products. Other food groups have powerful effects on health. Pramil Singh, Dr.P.H., Director of the Center for Health Research at LLU, has been studying vegetarians in India and is now starting to recruit subjects of Asian descent in addition to the 250 that he found in the AHS-2 cohort. It appears that in order to avoid the non-communicable disease epidemic, South Asians need a lower BMI than those of European descent. The World Health Organization has suggested a BMI cut-off point of 23 instead of the more typical 25.
During our break for lunch today, we were able to attend a food demonstration by chefs Cory Gheen and Betty Crocker (yes, it is her real name) and eat lunches based on what they made. My favorite was the sandwich spread made with walnuts, roasted red bell peppers and pomegranate syrup—very Middle Eastern. We had it on crunchy rolls with roasted vegetables—quite delicious. Wendy Bazilian, one of the LLU graduates that I knew from her field project days at St. Helena Health Center presided over the session and I got to speak with her afterwards. She has written a book and been a presence on TV several times recently. I actually saw several former students today who are doing rewarding, challenging, and meaningful work. It is one of the pleasures of an event like this.
We did have a small flurry of excitement in the middle of the academic proceedings. A fire started in LLU's Drayson Center and all 750 of us had to evacuate while Frank Hu from Harvard was in mid-presentation. It turned out that someone had left their jacket in the sauna and it caught fire. Somewhat less exciting, but still pleasurable was the reception which brought the day to an end. Time to regroup for Monday's session.
—Vicki Saunders, M.S., is an instructor of nutrition at Pacific Union College and is the past-president of the Seventh-day Adventist Dietetic Association.
The International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition is being held February 24-26, at Loma Linda University. A special pre-conference session happened Saturday evening that featured Roy Branson, moderator, and three speakers on “Vegetarianism: The Interface of Science and Values”. They also took the opportunity to honor (in absentia, due to illness) Allan Buller, retired president/CEO of Worthington Foods. (See Spectrum interview here.) In a video-taped interview, he described himself as growing up in a Mennonite family who butchered animals every autumn for food. His family converted to Adventism when he was six and he grew up to be the president of a vegetarian food products company. He was instrumental in establishing a nutrition council and organizing the first vegetarian congress in Washington D.C. in March of 1987.
Vegetarianism is consistent with three values, better health, protecting the environment, and more humane treatment of animals. The three speakers tonight addressed all three of these to a packed room in the Damazo Amphitheater of the Centennial Complex at LLU.
The first speaker was Claus Leitzmann, Ph.D., a retired professor of Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. He did not grow up in an SDA environment, but said that he likes to come to LLU because he doesn’t have to worry about what he will eat and he doesn’t have to defend it. He became a vegetarian out of his concerns for world hunger issues, CO2 emissions and animal treatment. When his youngest daughter suggested that the family do their part by becoming vegetarians, they started their new diet the next day and haven’t changed back since. He also expressed concerns that people become vegetarians with different priorities. Those who become vegetarians primarily for animal rights, may not take as good care of their own health as those who choose it for health reasons. He suggested that because even vegetarians have obesity problems, that many vegetarians eat too much fat (even good fat is high calorie), too much refined sugar and white flour, too much salt, drink too many liquid calories and eat too many ready-to-eat processed foods.
Theologian and physican Sigve Tonstad, Ph.D., spoke next, looking at Isaiah 11:9 and Romans 8:19. He suggested that the biblical texts that speak to animal treatment in the ideal world are less about health than they are about humans and non-humans co-existing in mutually non-predatory ways. He is originally from Norway, but now resides in Southern California. He recommended a couple of books during his presentation: Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel and Dominion: The Power of Man, The Suffering of Animals, and The Call to Mercy by Matthew Scully.
The last speaker was Marianne Theime, LL.M., who is a member of the House of Representatives in the Netherlands. (See Spectrum interview here.) I found her to be quite an intriguing character. She became a vegetarian for animal protection while she was a law student at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. She was disappointed that her law school didn’t do more to address the protection of animals. She was raised Catholic and was disappointed that they blessed bull fights and hunting. Her personal interest finally became a professional interest and she founded the Party for the Animals in 2002. The party now has 25,000 members and has won two seats in the national parliament, and eight seats in regional parliaments. They take the position that animals have an inherent value separate from their value to humans. Theirs is the only party of its kind in the world and they were criticized for being a one issue party. Marianne suggests, however, that what is good for animals is also good for humans in the areas of health, climate and environment, water use, antibiotic use, and economics. They have pushed for legislation for better treatment of chickens on factory farms, to ban fur farms, and to budget for non-animal alternatives for medical research. She produced the documentaries Meat the Truth and Sea the Truth and has written a book, The Century of the Animal. She became a Seventh-day Adventist about seven years ago because she felt it was consistent with her values. The man she married became a vegetarian and because he missed his meat, he has started a new company in making vegetarian protein foods from the lupin beans on his organic farm. He is called the vegetarian butcher. I have not heard of lupin as a protein source and I’m hoping that If I can run into her during the conference, she can tell me how to get a taste.
—Vicki Saunders, M.S., is an instructor of nutrition at Pacific Union College and is the past-president of the Seventh-day Adventist Dietetic Association.
Click here to read the second report from the conference.
—Lawrence T. Geraty, Ph.D., served as the second president of La Sierra University and is a past president of American Schools of Oriental Research. He completed his undergraduate education at Pacific Union College and received a doctorate in biblical studies from Harvard University. He serves on the board of Spectrum | Adventist Forum.
Spectrum recently posted a series of videos by Adventist college students participating in the viral video craze known as the “Harlem Shake,” encouraging readers to vote on which school “does it the best.” The films contain not only scenes of students dancing—a traditional Adventist taboo—but scenes of students engaging in bewildering frenzy and mayhem to a grinding techno beat with a single Spanish refrain: “Con los terroristas, ey shake, ey shake, ey, ey, ey.” At one Adventist university, a male in dark sunglasses straddles a young woman on her hands and knees wearing a saddle and spinning her head in circles to the accelerating beat of the music. At another, men wearing masks of animal heads and death skulls similar to Mexican luchadores—and often little else—perform lewd, violent, and comically absurd acts with each other and with objects ranging from a skateboard to what appears to be a bloated fish.
Reactions to the videos on Spectrum were predictably polarized. “Conservative” consternation and apocalyptic scripting (“The shaking of our church has started”) was matched by glib and unquestioning “liberal” approval (“Give us a break! We just want to have fun”; “Jesus would have a rousing good time”). Before rushing to any conclusions about what these eruptions of imitative chaos on Adventist campuses might signify, I suggest we try to situate them in broader cultural and historical perspective.
Carnival and Chaos
In his acclaimed 2007 book, A Secular Age, the Canadian Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor (building on the work of Bakhtin, Victor Turner, Natalie Davis, and others) devotes a surprising number of pages to the phenomenon of the medieval Carnival and similar festivals of misrule in numerous cultures. At certain periods in many pre-modern societies, the normal order would be temporarily suspended, reversed, inverted, or undone. Fools would be made king for a day. Boys would be given miters and anointed bishops. The authorities would be openly cursed and mocked. Young people—especially unmarried males—would be granted license to engage in sexual and even near-violent transgressions of accepted moral codes.
Yet all of this mockery of good standards, decency, and virtue was paradoxically in support of order and morality. The guardians of virtue permitted and even encouraged Carnival (although there were always stern moralizers who tried to suppress the traditions) because they understood that structure needs anti-structure and that society needs escape valves. “The weight of virtue and good order was so heavy, and so much steam built up under this suppression of instinct,” Taylor writes, “that there had to be periodic blow-outs if the whole system were not to fly apart.”
There was a deeper meaning, though, to these occasions of socially sanctioned and ritualized mayhem. In the medieval social imaginary, chaos is dangerous and must be contained, but order constantly threatens to become rigid, repressive, and deadening. Order can therefore only survive by being periodically plunged back into the energies of primal chaos—back into those ungoverned and ungovernable forces that are always present beneath the surface and that supply society with its creativity and dynamism. Without any allowance for temporary disorder, anarchy, and misrule, life would become unbearable and political and religious orders would become totalitarian.
Conversely, without a larger framework of shared meanings that might redeem the chaos, Carnival would simply turn into nihilism. Carnival in the medieval Christian calendar was immediately followed by 40 days of Lent. The word “carnival” comes from the Latin carne vale: “farewell to flesh.” Carefree indulgence or “letting go of oneself” was only socially or morally intelligible as the first step toward a more profound self-renunciation.
The Broken Carnivals of Secular Modernity
In the modern period, the balance between structure and anti-structure that held medieval society together within an overarching cosmic order and universe of shared symbolic meanings came unraveled. The radicals of the French Revolution incorporated Carnival-like holidays into their avowedly atheistic, de-Christianizing project. But unlike the earlier festivals, the goal of the new days of mayhem was purely destructive. They were not meant to celebrate or strengthen social bonds by reminding the rulers of their shared humanity with the commoners in a world of both sacred and secular, earthy realities. Instead, they were designed to do away with the old morality once and for all, to shatter any sense of the sacred so that only the secular remained, and to denounce the enemies of “liberty.”
In this disenchanted, post-Enlightenment climate with its emphasis on materialistic rationalism, many secular thinkers were as disturbed by Carnival as puritanical religious leaders had been in ages past. One result was a growing split between popular and elite culture. Another was the rise of sterile, bureaucratized and “disciplinary” societies resting upon the notion of a sharp private/public divide. The felt human need for anti-structure or “letting off steam” that had previously been acknowledged and incorporated within the shared sacramental life of the entire community was replaced by highly individualistic and atomistic modes of consumption and pleasure seeking.
In liberal societies today, according to Taylor, we thus find two kinds of events that vaguely recall but also radically deny the spirit of Carnival. First, protest movements employ the carnivalesque (puppets, theater, masks, etc.) in their denunciations of corporate capitalism and the established order. But their goal is not the preservation or restoration of the social fabric in the medieval tradition so much as a refashioning of society along lines that are totalizing, moralistic, and utopian in the tradition of the Jacobins. If their leaders were to gain power and not compromise on their principles, Taylor suggests, history teaches us that their “play” would quickly turn into political nightmares.
The second kind of event that partially evokes the Carnival in a secular age are those forms of mass entertainment that include elements of organized mayhem, violence, or chaos, including sporting events, rock concerts, raves, and holidays like Spring Break and Mardi Gras in which mostly young people behave with varying degrees of abandon in mob-like and often sexually charged atmospheres. These spectacles are permitted by society as forms of “private” amusement, and they provide at least some release from the banality of much of modern life with its soul-deadening office parks, strip malls, and suburban wastelands.
Unlike the medieval Carnivals, however, socially permitted “mayhem” today is almost entirely devoid of social or political significance; typically serves pure market values and corporate interests; promotes narcissistic brands of self-expression that for all their colorful flourishes are in fact forms of dull and witless social conformism; and cannot be explained or experienced in terms of any public meanings or values beyond secular liberalism’s one highest value: the right of every person to do whatever they please as long as no one else gets hurt.
Starving for Real Carnival
With this inadequate but hopefully suggestive genealogy of the Carnival in mind, we might now venture some thoughts on Adventists doing the “Harlem Shake.”
First, the “conservative” or fundamentalist response, marked by tedious moralizing and hysterical handwringing, is entirely out of proportion and more than a little hypocritical. These videos reveal nothing about ourselves that we didn’t already know. That some Adventist college students do inane and experimental things that cross the boundaries of good sense, good taste, and good dancing should come as no surprise to anyone. It has been so since time immemorial, including in ages far more religiously devout than our own. Let those who have never “let themselves go,” even mentally or in the privacy of their bedrooms, cast the first stones. The real reason people are scandalized, I would suggest, is because—thanks entirely to the technology of the internet and new social media—what was done was done in public.
At least, however, the “conservative” reaction has retained the sense that some kind of meaning might actually be at stake in the world we live in. “Liberal” incredulity that anyone could call into question the behavior of young adults having “fun” betrays a disturbing inability among those who see themselves as the champions of progressive thought to think in anything other than secular platitudes. What these videos illustrate is neither the depravity of Adventist college students nor the inconsequential and innocent antics of youthful joie de vivre. Rather, they expose the incoherence of the post-Enlightenment private/public divide, and the joyless and imitative culture of expressive individualism that fills the vacuum when sacramental meaning—and so true Carnival—is lost.
—A graduate of Atlantic Union College, Ronald Osborn, Ph.D., is a Bannerman Fellow with the program in politics and international relations at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Anarchy and Apocalypse.
While the members of the La Sierra University Constituency gathered today at Westlake Village, California, the home of the Pacific Union Conference office, no vote was taken on the proposed changes to the University bylaws.
On Wednesday, LSU President Randall Wisbey informed the faculty that last week a question had arisen about the meeting’s location. He said, “The Bylaws specify that constituency meetings are to take place on the La Sierra University campus. However, no mention of location is included in the Bylaws section dealing with special sessions.”
When University Counsel Kent Hansen was asked to offer an opinion on this location question, he advised that the meeting in Westlake Village would not fulfill the location requirement of the Bylaws.
“We had scheduled this special meeting in Westlake Village to accommodate church leadership and those attending the previously scheduled Pacific Union Executive Committee meetings,” Wisbey said. “This was, however, an inadvertent mistake. Any constituency session, regularly scheduled or special, must take place on our campus.”
The decision was made to continue with the Thursday meeting as an information session only, with time given to the constituents to ask questions and to offer suggestions. However, no formal votes were taken.
A new date will be set for a meeting on the LSU campus before the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior Commission meets on June 19.
It was WASC that suggested changes needed to be made to the LSU bylaws.
The proposed changes to the Bylaws, plus information about them can be read here: http://lasierra.edu/index.php?id=9284
In 2008, La Sierra University agreed to participate in a newly available tax-exempt municipal bond program. Like other bonds, it is funded by other organizations or individuals, and it is the tax-exemption portion that bears the great scrutiny.
Because it is tax-exempt, and costs the state of California insofar as potential tax revenues are diverted, the program carried with it certain restrictive covenants that could affect certain aspects of the life of the private religious university. These could include areas such as science instruction, whether students can be required to attend chapel, the types of clubs on campus, and the manner in which the university makes personnel decisions.
Before 2007, private religious universities in California were not permitted to participate in tax-exempt bond programs because it was seen to run afoul of a uniquely strong California state constitution provision enacted in 1879 that prohibited state and local governments from granting anything “in aid of any … sectarian purpose, or help[ing] to support or sustain any school, college, university, hospital or other institution controlled by any … sectarian denomination whatever …”
In 2007, the California Supreme Court ruled that religious institutions that met specific qualifications could participate in state-run programs without violating the state constitution. In the case, California Statewide Communities Development Authority (CSCDA) v. All Persons Interested in the Validity of a Purchase Agreement, the California Court found that three religious schools who sued to participate in a bond program could be trusted to keep their word that the money would not be used for religious purposes.
All three Southern California Christian schools, Oaks Christian School, California Baptist University, and Azusa Pacific University, had signed covenants that, “no portion of the proceeds of the bonds shall be used to finance and refinance any facility, place or building used or to be used for sectarian instruction or study or as a place for devotional activities or religious worship or in connection with any part of the programs of any school or department of divinity for the duration of the useful life of the project financed with the proceeds of the Bonds.”
In other words, the schools had promised that they would never use facilities financed with the bonds to further the explicitly religious aspects of their campus.
The trial court had ruled against the schools on the basis that compliance with the covenant against religious use would be impossible to uphold because each school was “organized primarily or exclusively for religious purposes” and “discriminates on the basis of religion in hiring faculty.” The lower court had further stated that it would be absolutely impossible for the schools to comply because “religion is both mandatory and integral to every aspect of student life. Religion is integrated into classroom instruction.”
The 4th District Court of Appeals reviewed the case and decided that deeper inquiry was needed since the schools had been identified as “pervasively sectarian.” The District court said that the covenant itself was not enough to insure compliance with the sectarian aspects and that it would be impossible to separate the religious from the secular aspects of these campuses. The District court added, “[e]ven assuming it was possible to monitor the program restriction under the contract provision allowing CSCDA a right of access to inspect the facilities…, such monitoring would necessarily require entanglement of government and religion that would raise its own constitutional alarms…. Moreover the fact that certain classrooms would not themselves be devoted to religious study is immaterial when the school program, as a whole, pervasively focuses on religious instructions.”
Finally, the California Supreme Court upheld the covenant against religious use and said that the schools could decide whether to comply with these provisions. It did propose a two-part test to see whether the financing would meet the secular requirements of the California constitution. First, “does each of the recipient schools offer a broad curriculum in secular subjects?” Secondly, “do the schools’ secular classes consist of information and coursework that is neutral with respect to religion?”
The high court said this two-part test, “ensures that the state’s interest in promoting the intellectual improvement of its residents is advanced through the teaching of secular information and coursework, and that the expression of a religious viewpoint in otherwise secular classes will provide a benefit of religion that is merely incidental to the bond programs’ primary purpose of promoting secular education.” (Emphasis added.)
The high court said that religion could be taught in the same manner it is taught in public schools. “Of course, religion may be an object of study in classes such as history, social studies, and literature, just as in public schools, in a manner that neither promotes nor opposes any particular religion or religion in general.” However, the court specifically prohibited sectarian education in funded facilities. “[A] class that includes as part of the instruction information or coursework that promotes or opposes a particular religion or religious belief may not be taught in facilities financed through tax exempt bond financing.”
The court was willing to presume that the institutions would abide by covenants against religious use subject to investigation by governmental authorities to ensure compliance.
Three dissenting justices expressed concern that even if the schools followed the covenants, they still routinely made hiring decisions that discriminated along the lines of religion or sexual orientation and would violate neutrality requirements. Justice Ming W. Chin, writing the dissent stated that “the proposed bond financings would have the direct, immediate, and substantial effect of advancing religion and would contravene the constitutional provision’s purpose, by devoting the government’s power and authority to raise money at below-market interest rates through the issuance and sale of tax-exempt bonds to the support and advancement of religious or sectarian purposes.”
Justice Chin then described ways that the institutions would be in violation of the restrictive use covenant. Noting the uncontested findings that religion was both mandatory and integral to every aspect of student life at the schools, “and that the schools are ‘organized primarily or exclusively for religious purposes,’ ‘restrict[ing] admission of students by religious criterion,’ ‘discriminat[ing] on the basis of religion in hiring faculty,’ and ‘integrat[ing]’ ‘[r]eligion into classroom instruction,’ notwithstanding the restricted use covenants, the proposed bond financings would impermissibly provide aid for religious projects.”
Following the CSCDA decision allowing for bonds to be issues to the three Southern California Christian schools, in May 2008, the Board of Trustees of La Sierra University, in a manner that the university states was moved through all of the appropriate channels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and university leadership, voted to issue a $24,405,000 tax-free bond (See “LSU Bond” document). The bond was used to complete several campus improvement projects and to refinance the debt and reduce payments on the recently constructed Price Science Complex. (See "La Sierra University Responds to Speculative Postings on Independent Websites.")
La Sierra University signed the same restrictive covenants as in the CSCDA case, and in particular the university “has covenanted that no portion of the proceeds of the Bonds shall be used to finance and refinance any facility, place or building used or to be used for sectarian instruction or study or as a place for devotional activities or religious worship or in connection with any part of the programs of any school or department of divinity for the duration of the useful life of the project financed with the proceeds of the Bonds.” (LSU Bond at page 27).
As a result, La Sierra is presumably subject to monitoring by the state authority governing the bonds to ensure compliance with the non-religious use covenant.
There are several unresolved questions regarding what the bond means for the university. In January 2013, Spectrum’s blog published an article by T. Joe Willey, Ph.D., noting that “according to the prohibited use covenants in the bond the science building is therefore off limits for religious purposes.” Religion could be only taught to the extent that it is taught in public universities according to the language of the California Supreme Court ruling.
Indeed it could apply around campus—any place where the bond funding was used to enhance a facility could potentially be deemed religion-free zones.
When it comes to the issue of hiring, as indicated by the dissenting justices in CSCDA, La Sierra may no longer be able to legally discriminate on grounds of religion or sexual orientation. In Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (2012), the U. S. Supreme Court found that a relatively broad category of employees could be considered “ministers,” but La Sierra may have contracted around these prohibitions, at least on bond-funded parts of campus. Ultimately, La Sierra may find that it no longer has the ability to terminate or impose professional discipline on faculty and staff for reasons related to their religious practice or belief, or lack thereof.
Finally, when it comes to allowing student clubs on campus, La Sierra may be prohibited under the contract that it voluntarily signed that it can no longer legally prohibit recognition for a gay and lesbian club. This issue made news in November 2012 when a gay and lesbian club was denied recognition because, in the words of the campus spokesperson, the club “does not align with Seventh-day Adventist beliefs on sexuality. La Sierra is a Seventh-day Adventist university, so we support the values of the SDA Church. That is why they were turned down.”
It does not appear that the bond has been used by any parties to expand their rights on campus, but the bond would seem to give many groups a right of legal action in the event that they feel discriminated against by the university because of their religious beliefs. From a religious liberty angle, religious institutions have long held the “right to discriminate” in order to protect their interests and religious missions, but what the California Supreme Court seems to be saying is that they also have the right to contract away some of these protections in return for tax-exempt bond funding.
All that we can be sure of now is that the restrictive covenant against religious use is applicable for the duration of the useful life of the facilities financed with the bond.
—Michael Peabody, an alumnus of La Sierra University, is an attorney in Los Angeles and the editor of Religiousliberty.tv.
Read La Sierra University's response here. As part of this simultaneously published point/counterpoint series, and in an effort to facilitate fairness and understanding in this conversation, all comments will be centralized on a third blog post, available here.