GROVE CITY, PA. -- The Civil Rights Restoration Act, which passed overwhelmingly in the Senate, will lead to widespread erosion of American freedoms. It provides for the expansion, beyond any previous limit, of the power of Congress to intrude as a matter of public policy into the private sector. Our government is founded upon the principle that freedom is endowed by the Creator, not by the whim of a ruling body.

This new bill calls for sweeping regulation of private institutions that benefit even indirectly from federal dollars. Those who support dangerous legislation like this, such as The Post in its recent editorial, are apparently convinced that Americans do not have the ability to function successfully without government intervention. Government of this kind sees itself as a "benevolent dictator" whose duty is to impose collective standards of moral judgment. It turns the federal government into a cloying, oppressive overseer of all the most ordinary behaviors of the American people. This directly conflicts with the principle of a truly limited role of government, which relies on the concept of self-governance.

The bill is designed to overturn the 1984 Supreme Court Grove City decision, which limits to specific programs government regulation of private institutions that indirectly benefit from federal monies. The decision resulted from Grove City College's refusal to sign a routine Title IX nondiscrimination compliance form. It did so not in objection to the principles of nondiscrimination, but in objection to requirements that would have obliged the college to adhere to all future unwritten regulations. The college considered that to be unnecessary government intrusion into the affairs of a private institution.

Grove City College considers discrimination of any kind to be repugnant and inconsistent with its conscience as a Christian institution. Accordingly, it has operated for more than 100 years under nondiscriminatory policies. In December 1986, Dr. Clarence M. Pendleton Jr., chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, declared in a campus speech that the college "cherishes freedom, clearly abhors discrimination and that nothing could be further from the truth than to suggest that discrimination existed on campus." Furthermore, the college continues to refuse government money of any kind.

Grove City College cherishes freedom, and it affirms its stand to operate without beleaguering government intrusion. Indeed, the new bill is a blueprint for disaster. The true nature of this legislation is that, according to W. B. Allen, "it fears liberty. It fears the free and willing compliance of free citizens. It {Congress} has been seduced by the false allure of the overseer, in complete control and adapting to every exigency." It assumes that the nation has lost the moral fiber upon which the principle of self-governance is founded. The college whose students receive federal grants, the farmer who receives subsidies, the corner store whose patrons use food stamps -- all must now fall under the debilitating impact of government regulations that impose collective standards of behavior intended to safeguard equality.

This is why we oppose this legislation. It is not a bill about civil rights. At its very core lies the assumption that our citizens are unable to govern themselves with justice and equality. Grove City College will continue to stand as a beacon for the freedom Americans cherish. It resists both government money and the entangling, intrusive regulations that others wish to impose upon private institutions. Has the nation lost all sense of individual integrity? Will we allow our elected officials to second-guess the soundness of private decision-making? If we have reached the point in our history where we have lost the moral fiber necessary for self-governance, then it is truly a sad day for us, for we will have lost it all.

The writer is assistant vice president for external affairs at Grove City College.