Church given go-ahead on Christian school after public school committee accused of religious discrimination

A Hispanic church’s application to start a Christian school in a Boston suburb was finally approved on Monday after a local public school board subcommittee criticized the church’s religious views and recommended rejecting the application.

Vida Real Church, located in a large Hispanic immigrant community in Somerville, Massachusetts, submitted an application to open a Christian school, Real Life Learning Center, last September. The state requires such proposals be approved by local public school committees. 

Last month the subcommittee reviewing the proposal recommended the committee deny the church’s request, citing its religious beliefs. In a report from the subcommittee, the church’s biblical views of homosexuality and creation were cited as problematic.

The story made national headlines and critics claimed the committee was guilty of religious discrimination. First Liberty Institute and the Massachusetts Family Institute wrote a letter to district Superintendent Mary Skipper warning that it is illegal to prevent the school from opening because of its religious views.

After the church’s application was approved this week, Andrew Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, said in a statement, “We are absolutely thrilled the RLLC will be able to open. It is good to see Somerville school officials finally treating Vida Real fairly and according to the law.”

Counsel for First Liberty Institute, Ryan Garder, added, “We are grateful that Somerville officials recognized that the government cannot ban a religious school because they disagree with its religious beliefs.”