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Student sues Cal Baptist for alleged religious bias

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (BP)–California Baptist College has been named in a federal court lawsuit alleging religious bias. A college spokesman declined comment on the advice of legal counsel.
An article in the Riverside Press-Enterprise Aug. 7 reported the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court July 28. According to the article, Robert Woolwine, an evening college graduate student at the California Southern Baptist Convention institution, claims he was denied a clerical job in 1996 because he is not a Christian.
The Press-Enterprise article said the lawsuit includes a letter to Woolwine from Cal Baptist President Ronald Ellis stating that under federal law the college “may discriminate on the basis of religion in order to fulfill its purpose” as a Christian liberal arts institution.
Cal Baptist was founded in El Monte by Southern Baptists in 1950. It was relocated in 1955 to its current campus in Riverside, where enrollment this fall is expected to reach approximately 2,000.
Woolwine, who claims to be of Russian Jewish heritage, also alleges in the suit that he was fired from a student employment position at Cal Baptist in retaliation for a similar complaint currently pending with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Press-Enterprise article quotes Geoffrey Hopper, the Riverside attorney who represented Cal Baptist in the EEOC matter, as stating Woolwine quit the job.
The U.S. District Court lawsuit reportedly seeks unspecified damages for “physical and emotional pain and suffering, humiliation and emotional distress and lost wages and employment benefits,” according to the newspaper report.

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  • Mark A. Wyatt