A popular Southern California pastor resigned from his position on the state's largest high school board after his peers voted in favor of a mandate that would require pro-LGBTQ sexual ethics education in public schools.
In an email published in a First Things article last Thursday, Pastor Chad Vegas noted that after 12 years of serving on the board he faced a potential lawsuit for his decision to vote against the policy.
Students rally outside Santee Education Complex in Los Angeles April 20. The principal of the L.A. high school where a scuffle broke out with adult protesters over a new gender-neutral bathroom praised his students as "trailblazers" for campaigning to install the restroom. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
CA has mandated this [school transgender policy] for the whole state. I have served on the largest high school board in CA, and the nation, for 12 years. I basically lead that board. Our board voted to adopt the new law into policy. I voted against it. I was breaking the law for doing so. I could be personally sued and our attorney tells me the board insurance won't cover me because I am breaking the law and I am a bigot.
The California law requires that the state's middle and high schools offer instruction to students on how to have safe homosexual sex and how to get an abortion. It also requires schools to teach that gender does not correspond to biological sex.
Vegas announced last month in a letter to his Sovereign Grace Church congregation that he would not run for re-election, despite the community's pleas for him to remain.
"My time as a public school board member has come to an end. I am very much at peace with this decision," the June 2 post read. "While I am not optimistic about the future of our country, I am deeply optimistic about the future of Christ's church. Jesus will build his church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it."
The Bakersfield Californian reported at the time that Board President Mike Williams "decried the decision on social media," begging for somebody to "talk him out of it," and later revising his post to say, "No, pray him out of it."
Vegas posted an update on his decision to his blog Thursday, including his original letter to his congregation.
"It is legally required to teach your children the LGBTQ sexual mores while simultaneously illegal to mention God," he wrote. "I can't and won't enforce that foolishness."
"I am a Christian pastor above all else," he continued. "I could not vote for these policies. I can not remain on a board to enforce these policies. I spoke out against the board voting for this. I called on them to realize that they will answer to God on this vote, and they should fear Him more than the state. I did not prevail."
Westminster Theological Seminary professor Carl Trueman, a friend of Vegas who penned the First Things article that includes the pastor's email, asserted that a cultural shift "has been taking shape for some time." Trueman noted that Christian values and beliefs are no longer respected or even tolerated as they are seen as a threat to an increasingly pluralistic society.
He added that Christians should let go of the idea that "the world is run by people who respect difference and diversity, and that all we need to do is behave decently in order to win their respect and earn their favor." Instead, he argued, they must actively defend their beliefs, even if that means removing oneself from a position on power to avoid being forced to comply with policies that threaten those beliefs.
In his July 7 post, Vegas urged readers to pray for Christians serving in the public school system.
"I do not know how long Christian teachers and administrators can ethically continue," Vegas wrote. "They will certainly need to increase in their wisdom as they navigate this new legal reality in our state." He also suggested that soon Christian parents in California will need to explore alternative educational options for their children.