Court victory for Christian preschool that rejects LGBT ideology
Court victory for Christian preschool that rejects LGBT ideologyFollow @KnightsTempOrg
A Colorado Christian school can continue to participate in the state’s universal preschool program without fear of reprisal, following a favorable federal court ruling on Saturday.
Darren Patterson Christian Academy won a preliminary injunction that will prevent state officials from taking action against it because of its religious beliefs and its support for the moral truth and biological fact that there are only two sexes.
The new statewide program funds early education for the school of a parent’s choosing across the state. The case continues in the federal court system.
Officials “raised concerns” that the school’s policies would violate Colorado’s “non-discrimination requirements,” according to the judge’s summary. But officials refused to grant a religious exemption beyond telling the preschool it was allowed to keep its school closed outside of its congregation. That would harm local Christians who are not part of the congregation – the academy is the only Christian preschool in the county.
The school requires “[a]ll employees” to “be a ‘born-again Christian’ and adhere to certain lifestyle requirements, including abstinence from sexual activity outside of the context of a marriage between a man and a woman,” District Court Judge Daniel Domenico wrote in his ruling.
The school also rejects gender ideology: it requires students to use sex-separated bathrooms based on their actual sex and it forbids “pronouns that do not correspond to a student’s or employee’s biological sex.”
The state is currently writing the final regulations, but in the interim is relying on rules from the Department of Human Services. However, officials “never provided a clear answer on whether they view Plaintiff’s policies as currently violating the statutory or contractual anti-discrimination provisions, even though they were given ample opportunity in briefing, declarations, and at the hearing,” Judge Domenico wrote.
However, he noted that Democrat Governor Jared Polis made several statements critical of the preschool and religious liberty, indicating future action could be taken against the academy.
“I’m not commenting on specific lawsuits, but obviously, if you run a preschool that doesn’t receive state money, you can run it the way you want,” Gov. Polis said, as documented in the court record. “But of course, when you are publicly funded, you have to agree with the basic values: We don’t discriminate, and you can’t say parents can’t come here because they are gay or they are not married or whatever it is.”
Soon after a hearing on the motions, Polis’ office weighed in again, indicating opposition to the preschool and similar religious education providers.
“We’re saddened to see different groups of adults attempting to coopt preschool for their own ends and to discriminate, rather than ensuring that all kids are welcome,” his office stated.
“Voters were clear on their support for parent choice and a universal, mixed delivery system that is independently run, that doesn’t discriminate against anyone, and offers free preschool to every child no matter who their parents are,” the office stated. “We will continue to ensure that every Colorado child and family has access to preschool, meet the needs of all learners, and will vigorously defend this landmark program in court so that even more families can benefit from preschool.”
The statements “lend credibility to Plaintiff’s fear that the state has not forsworn taking action against schools like it,” the judge noted.
Colorado also has a history of using anti-discrimination law to try to shut down Christian voices, including repeatedly taking baker Jack Phillips to court for refusing to make pro-homosexual and pro-transgender cakes. Colorado also lost in court when it tried to force a Christian web designer to make a website for a homosexual “wedding.”
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the Christian school, praised the ruling.
“The government cannot force religious schools to abandon their beliefs and exercise to participate in a public benefit program that everyone else can access,” Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus stated in a news release.
Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Maine Christian school that had been excluded from a similar voucher program because of its religious beliefs, ADF noted.
“Darren Patterson Christian Academy has been serving Chaffee County families for over 40 years,” Galus stated. “Yet Colorado officials tried to force it to abandon its religious beliefs—the reason why parents choose to send their kids to the school—to receive critical state funding. That is a violation of the school’s First Amendment right.”