Supreme Court Decision in Context

Supreme Court Decision in Context

This statement, released by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), appropriately expresses the concerns and aspirations of most of the members of this association in response to the recent ruling by the Supreme Court on the issue of gay marriage. We welcome your comments.

Richard Kriegbaum, Ph.D.
President, Fresno Pacific University


The Supreme Court’s affirmation of the First Amendment draws from a deep well of precedent that protects free exercise. Free exercise has long been regarded as a fundamental right under the First Amendment, ensuring religious individuals and organizations can exercise their beliefs not only in synagogues, mosques and churches, but also beyond their walls. These full protections for religious individuals and organizations to exercise their beliefs privately and publicly are not diminished by expanded marriage rights.

Christian colleges are places where students are taught to be people of integrity, people of character, people who pay back their loans. They are institutions whose graduates contribute to the public good as artists, health care providers, educators, public servants and entrepreneurs. At the core of this work are deeply held religious beliefs. The Supreme Court’s majority opinion named with respect the plurality of religious beliefs throughout the United States, and specifically affirmed the space in the public square for individuals to have those beliefs and opinions:

“Further, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate.”

It stands to reason, then, that the tax-exempt status and religious hiring rights of religious institutions will be protected when they advance the religious mission of a college or university.”

Also, Dr. Barry Corey of Biola put out an excellent statement adding to the higher education emphasis:

“As we received word today about the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage, we hope and pray that organizations like Biola University will be able to continue to serve the needs of our world with biblical convictions and Christ like love under the religious freedoms that have defined our nation. We believe more than ever that there is an important place in our world for colleges and universities that are free to live out their long-held convictions, rooted in Scripture and reinforced by 2,000 years of Church history. It is our hope that our society will honor and uphold the ideal of pluralism, respecting and defending the rights of religious organizations like Biola to operate according to the beliefs they hold dear, which includes their sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage. We trust that we will be able to continue to exercise our freedom to express our beliefs with gentleness and respect. We should be able to do this civilly in the context of religious freedom and in a society that reveres a genuine concept of pluralism. We can do this as Christians, standing resolutely for what we believe while understanding that others have the same right to hold beliefs that are different from us. As the President of the United States said this morning, “I know that Americans of good will continue to hold a wide range of views on this issue. Opposition, in some cases, has been based on sincere and deeply held beliefs. All of us who welcome today’s news should be mindful of that fact and recognize different viewpoints, revere our deep commitment to religious freedom.” It is also our hope that all Christians will hold their convictions confidently, but with compassion. It takes courage to live with a “firm center and soft edges” in a society that increasingly finds that “center” to be out of step with the cultural mainstream. But we believe a compassionate, Christ-like courage is essential. Ultimately, the Biola community will trust in God, knowing that if we remain rooted in him we will continue to bear fruit for his kingdom, educating men and women in mind and character to impact the world for Christ.”

These times are not by accident. I continue to pray that God will always reveal to me how to be the best for him in each circumstance. God had got our colleges and universities in his hand. He has sustained them for generations. Why would he stop now?

Shirley V. Hoogstra, J.D.


Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

321 Eighth Street, NE | Washington, DC 20002

P: 202.546.8713 ext. 322| F: 202.548.5205

Kriegbaum Richard

Kriegbaum Richard

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