News and Commentary

Berkeley Christian Student Senator Pressured To Resign For Abstaining From Vote For Religious Beliefs

A Christian student senator at the University of California, Berkeley, is being ousted from her position after abstaining from a resolution that condemns the Trump administration for considering narrowing the definition of gender.

The resolution was introduced on October 31, and in response, Isabella Chow gave a statement explaining why she could not vote on the resolution because of her Christian beliefs.

“My God is one who assigns immeasurable value to and desires to love each and every human being. In God’s eyes and therefore my own, everyone of you here today and in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is significant, valid, wanted, and loved — even if and when our views differ,” Chow said.

“That said, I cannot vote for this bill without compromising my values and my responsibility to the community that elected me to represent them,” Chow continued. “As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right, and true. I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman. For me, to love another person does not mean that I silently concur when, at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual.”

“After lengthy conversations with many of my community leaders and advisors, I have chosen to abstain from voting on these bills tonight,” she added.

According to Campus Reform, the resolution condemned the proposed Title IX changes that include limiting “gender identity” to physical sex. The proposed changes were mentioned in a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services which outlines a legal definition to sex under Title IX.

After her statement, Student Action, the party of which Chow was a member, cut ties with her, claiming that there are “inconsistencies between her beliefs” and the party, including perspectives on “reproductive health and wellness resources, legal protections for survivors of sexual violence, and community space for vulnerable members of our student body.”

Teddy Lake, the student senator who introduced the resolution, condemned Chow and proceeded to label her as a bigot in a statement.

“Tonight was a harrowing reminder of the kind of bigotry that persists in contemporary society and, more specifically, sits across from me on the Senate floor,” Lake wrote.

“I cannot fathom the amount of cognitive dissonance required to make a statement as disingenuous and harmful as the one Senator Chow made tonight,” Lake added. “The contradictions present in her speech are, frankly, disturbing and irreconcilable. Perhaps what most offends me, though, is Senator Chow’s outrageous ask that we, as a Senate class, respect her “beliefs” as she does ours. To that end, I’d like to clarify that what Senator Chow expressed tonight were not beliefs at all — they were hateful prejudices that deserve nothing less than the strongest condemnation from myself, my community, and my colleagues. I have no obligation to entertain or engage with individuals who deny my right to exist loudly and proudly as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.”

Chow attempted to defend herself by sending an op-ed to the school’s newspaper, the Daily Cal, but was rejected because it “reinforces” her original statement which they deemed “utilized rhetoric that is homophobic and transphobic by the Daily Cal’s standards,” Campus Reform reports. She also attempted to edit her piece to comply with the standards of the Daily Cal but was still rejected because “the submission as a whole doesn’t meet the newspaper’s editorial standards.” The paper referred to its submission page on its website that claims, “Op-eds that are deemed libelous, racist, sexist, homophobic, or highly offensive in any other manner will not print.”

The school’s Queer Alliance Resource Center (QARC) also condemned Chow and called for her resignation.

At the Senate meeting last week, hundreds of students protested Chow and even had a large banner that said, “Senator Chow Resign now.”

Chow told The Daily Wire that she has faced criticism before for being pro-life but she was not expecting “such a concerted and targeted attack.”

“Over the past couple of days, I’ve learned a lot about the viciousness of online harassment. If people want to attack me, it’s much easier for them to whip out their phones and tweet a scathing remark that will gain likes, comments, and reshares,” Chow said. “It takes a lot more courage to send me a personal message or email with direct threats or insults, and even more courage to look me in the eye and say the same slurs that they so casually use on social media. Even though vocal opponents have largely avoided me on campus and in personal communication, it doesn’t mitigate the pain of hurtful words that I see on social media every day.”

Chow said she stands by her comments and does not plan to resign.

Chow has also been voted out of the Publications and Media Board without being granted a meeting to defend herself. “I’ve also been disaffiliated with pretty much every publications/media club on campus, almost all without a heads up or before I had the chance to speak with club leaders that I’ve worked so long with.”

Chow also provided The Daily Wire with the following statement:

For me and the church here at Berkeley, free speech is an issue that has been highlighted, but it’s not the primary issue at stake here. As one of my staffers put it, this is “people issue” – people who feel hurt and unable to reconcile how the traditional Christian worldview can profess to love LGBTQ+ individuals while disagreeing with their lifestyles and the promotion of their identities. Even if the church continues to be misunderstood and slandered, our responsibility is not to shout our beliefs loudly above the noise, but to emulate the unconditional love and truth of Jesus.

As tumultuous as the past couple weeks have been for me, my deepest prayer is that the church in Berkeley and beyond would increase dialogue regarding the intersection of faith and the LGBTQ+ community. We do not have to agree 100% theologically or practically, but must recognize that the LGBTQ+ community has been shunned and hurt by the church for too long. I recognize that behind all the anger and backlash are wounded hearts and traumatic narratives that only God can redeem. I pray that the Lord would use my story to shed light on how the church can better love the LGBTQ+ community while not compromising His truth spoken in love.