A Christian preschool in the US state of Colorado cannot be blocked from participating in a free school programme over its biblical stance on sexual ethics, a court has ruled.
Darren Patterson Christian Academy launched legal action in June, after it was denied a religious exemption to “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” non-discrimination requirements. A federal district court has now prevented state officials from hindering the school’s participation in the programme while the case continues.
The school argued that the provisions would force it to use pronouns which contradict a child or staff member’s biological sex, weaken its policies on single-sex facilities, and hire employees who do not share its Christian ethos.
Jeremiah Galus, of religious liberty group Alliance Defending Freedom, which is supporting the school, said: “The government cannot force religious schools to abandon their beliefs and exercise to participate in a public benefit program that everyone else can access.”
He added: “Darren Patterson Christian Academy has been serving Chaffee County families for over 40 years. 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.”
The school, which is the only Christian preschool in the county, does not restrict its admission of children on the basis of a family’s background or religious beliefs.
Earlier this year, a church in California launched legal action after its childcare centre was barred from providing free meals to low-income families over its refusal to back transgender ideology.
The Church of Compassion, which runs Dayspring Christian Learning Center, used the US Government’s Child and Adult Food Care Program for nearly 20 years until it refused to implement new “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” anti-discrimination requirements, which violated its statement of faith.
The church’s legal papers stated: “The government does not have the authority to force religious institutions to compromise their deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs and practices about human sexuality”, which were “uncontroversial for more than 2,000 years and continue to be held by most major world religions”.
It said the new requirements “send the message to houses of worship and other religious entities, that organizations that maintain traditional and/or biblical beliefs about human sexuality are second-class institutions, outsiders, and not full members of the community”.