Anti-Christian Legislation Accidentally Proposed In Ohio
The law of unintended consequences has not been repealed, alas. State Senator Jerry Cirino proposed a bill called the “Ohio Higher Education Enhancement Act”. My local state senator, the infamous Sandy O’Brien, is a co-sponsor. In this bill it is proposed to cut off state financial assistance to private colleges in Ohio unless they affirm they hire faculty without any “ideological litmus test”. When you read further through the bill you find that that is not adequately defined. The concept arises in the proposed section 3345.0217(B)(9) which states:
(9) Prohibit political and ideological litmus tests in all hiring, promotion, and admissions decisions, including diversity statements and any other requirement that applicants describe their commitment to a specified concept, specified ideology, or any other ideology, principle, concept, or formulation that requires commitment to any controversial belief or policy;
Why is this anti-Christian? Consider the map of private colleges and universities authorized to operate in Ohio posted by the Ohio Department of Higher Education. They’re listed as “Independent Colleges and Universities”. If you look at the list you’ll see a bunch that offer education in religion and ministry such as Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ashland University, Ohio Christian University, and others. There is an exception in federal law that allows such institutions to employ people only of their faith tradition to train their own ministers to go out into the world. This bill from State Senator Cirino would cut those institutions off from Ohio-provided institutional funding supports if they take advantage of that provision of federal law to ensure that they maintain their own minister training programs rather than having to hire people of other faith traditions or no faith at all. The schools would be left with the horrible choice of losing state funding supports or jettisoning ministry training programs.
Overall this is another “divisive concepts” bill. Supposedly these state legislators mean well. I don’t think they actually care about the consequences to these things.