Parents, Catholic school sue Michigan officials over ‘gender identity’ law

(Daily Caller) – The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (SHJP) Catholic school filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michigan state officials after the state’s civil rights laws were changed to include…

(Daily Caller) – The Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish (SHJP) Catholic school filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michigan state officials after the state’s civil rights laws were changed to include “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” as protected categories, which the school argued the change would force it to violate its religious beliefs.

In July, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that Michigan’s Civil Rights Act must include sexual orientation and gender identity under its protections from discrimination. SHJP and families who attend the school filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel over the court’s decision from forcing the school to hire and promote LGBTQ lifestyles in conflict with traditional Catholic teachings.

“To comply with Michigan’s re-understood laws, Sacred Heart Parish and its school, Sacred Heart Academy, would be forced to hire faculty and staff who lead lives in direct opposition to the Catholic faith, speak messages that violate Church doctrine, and refrain from articulating Catholic beliefs in teaching its students and when advertising the school to prospective students or job applicants,” the lawsuit states. “Rather than defy Catholic doctrine in these ways, Sacred Heart would shut down.”

The lawsuit states that parents specifically choose to send their children to SHJP for religious instruction in line with their faith, and the state Supreme Court’s decision will infringe on their religious liberty under the First Amendment.

“When Michigan prevents Sacred Heart from operating its school consistent with its Catholic beliefs, it also necessarily violates the fundamental parental and free exercise rights of Sacred Heart families,” the lawsuit read.

The Catholic school maintains in the lawsuit that its employees must abide by traditional Catholic doctrine in their daily life as well as at school. After the court’s ruling, however, current law would require the school to abandon part of its doctrine in order to satisfy the state’s requirement that the school not discriminate against LGBTQ individuals who wish to work at SHJP.

“Sacred Heart’s standard of conduct requires that employees must be consistent, in expression and example, with the teaching and practice of the Catholic faith and shall not advocate, encourage, or counsel beliefs or practices that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith,” the lawsuit states. “If churches and religious organizations cannot limit their membership to those who support and believe in an organization’s or community’s culture and mission, it changes and undermines those institutions.”

ADF, who is representing SHJP, Senior Counsel Kate Anderson, director of the ADF Center for Parental Rights, said in a press release that the government cannot force religious institutions to adopt a belief that violates their faith.

“Every parent has the right to make the best education decision for their children, and the government can’t deprive parents of that fundamental freedom,” Anderson stated.

The SHJP, the AG’s office and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.