A California church and daycare is suing the state for alleged religious discrimination and violating the Constitution.
For over 20 years, Church of Compassion and its Dayspring Christian Learning Center participated in California’s Food Care Program to help feed immigrant and low-income students.
But when the state updated the program’s conditions to include statements on sexual orientation and gender identity, the church was forced to choose between its faith and its ministry. It refused to compromise its beliefs and was then evicted from the program.
The subsequent lawsuit, filed Mar. 10, called it a “Faustian bargain.”
“The state has no authority to force its woke sexual orthodoxy on religious institutions,” said Dean Broyles, chief counsel to the plaintiffs and president of National Center for Law & Policy.
“If the First Amendment means anything, it must mean that the state has no jurisdiction to coerce a church, using either carrots or sticks, to compromise or abdicate its deeply held biblical beliefs about human sexuality or force religious organizations to implement statist sexual ideologies,” Broyles concluded.
The lawsuit alleges California engaged in religious discrimination, violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments. And the plaintiffs have the legal precedent to win.
In 2017, Trinity Lutheran Church in Missouri applied for a grant for recycled playground materials for its daycare and was denied. However, in a lawsuit that made it the Supreme Court, Trinity Lutheran won in 7-2 decision. The Court determined churches couldn’t be excluded from neutral or secular programs solely because of their religious nature.
The California church is alleging even worse treatment from state officials, claiming they were openly hostile to the church’s religious beliefs.
According to the lawsuit, one communication from Jessie Rosales, chief of the Food Care Program, said, “While the Legislature strongly supports religious freedom, it has also explicitly stated that religious freedom should not be a justification for discrimination.”
The plaintiffs believe this view “demonstrates both a profound government ignorance of and unvarnished targeted hostility towards religion and religious people.”
“The new State Sexual Orthodoxy policies blatantly discriminate against houses of worship and other religious organizations that maintain traditional views of human sexuality,” the suit continues, “while providing no religious exemptions nor any reasonable attempt to accommodate religion – but rather defaming Plaintiff’s religious beliefs as bigoted and discriminatory and not worthy of recognition or respect.”
Kelly Wade, principal of the Dayspring Center, also released her own statement.
“Our Preschool serves all families,” she said. “But we do not want the government to force us to replace our core values and the essential beliefs of our Christian faith or make us agree to adopt and express the state’s contrary beliefs.”
Wade says their community has their back in the legal battle.
“Our church has been very supportive,” she told World. “Our congregation is praying for us, and so are other community churches.”
The plaintiffs are suing for damages and for the right to be reinstated in the Food Care Program. Their prayer for relief also asks that the state of California be prohibited from using sexual orthodoxy as grounds to exclude other organizations in the future.