BLOGThanks to CA Governor’s Veto, Religious Orgs Can Still Hold Employees to a Code of Conduct

By Sarah Kramer Posted on: | October 16, 2017

Does “reproductive freedom” trump religious freedom? The California legislature – and its buddies in the pro-abortion lobby – sure seem to think so.

But thankfully, today, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a law that would have kept religious and pro-life organizations – such as churches, Christian schools, religious nonprofits, and pro-life organizations – from holding their employees to a code of conduct that is consistent with that organization’s beliefs about abortion and sexual behavior.

That means a church could not ask its employees to affirm a code of conduct that states sex is intended for marriage between one man and one woman. Or a pro-life organization could not ask its employees to comply with a code of conduct that affirms the sanctity of human life.

It goes without saying that this is a major violation of these groups’ religious freedom.

“The government should not and cannot tell churches, Christian colleges, pro-life pregnancy care centers, and other religious groups that they can’t live out their beliefs within their own organizations,” said ADF Legal Counsel Elissa Graves. “Gov. Brown was right to veto this immensely unconstitutional bill, which would have been an unprecedented overreach on the part of the state of California. The First Amendment doesn’t allow the state to order churches and other faith-based groups to violate their most deeply held convictions. They have the freedom to live according to their faith and to require those who work for them to do the same.”

Churches, Christian schools, and other religious and pro-life groups should have the freedom to hold their employees to the beliefs and mission that they espouse. That’s really not much to ask.

After all, would California force Planned Parenthood to hire pro-life employees? Of course not.

In fact, it should come as no surprise that the State of California conspired with pro-abortion groups to try to pass this law. NARAL Pro-Choice California is a co-sponsor of the law, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California is a supporter. That’s the pro-abortion political machine at work, folks.

But this is not the first time California has tried to limit the rights and voices of those who are not falling in line with the government’s preferred ideology.

  • In 2015, California passed a law that forces pro-life pregnancy centers to promote abortion. ADF has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear this case and protect the freedom of these pregnancy centers to decline to speak a message that directly contradicts their mission.
  • In 2014, the California Department of Managed Healthcare forced all health insurance policies to cover elective abortions, regardless of whether the organization is morally or religiously opposed. ADF is representing Skyline Wesleyan Church in a lawsuit against this policy and is also representing three other churches in a separate lawsuit against this unconstitutional mandate.

Need I even mention that pro-abortion groups were pushing these policies as well? (Hint: they were.)

And while this veto is great news, there is still much work to be done in California.

ADF will continue to stand for the organizations that hold to a biblical sexual ethic and the sanctity of human life. They, like all of us, should have the freedom to run their organization – and make hiring and firing decisions – in such a way that is consistent with their beliefs and mission.


To stay up to date on these cases and issues in California, as well as similar cases across the nation, get the ADF newsletter delivered directly to your inbox. 
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Sarah Kramer

Digital Content Specialist

Sarah worked as an investigative reporter before joining the Alliance Defending Freedom team.

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