Federal Court: Christian School Can Participate in Universal Preschool Program Without Compromising Religious Beliefs

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood has a new universal preschool program and requires all schools that participate to comply with provisions that bar discrimination based on religion, sexual orientation, and “gender identity.”

Naturally, such requirements conflict with schools with religious tenets that oppose homosexuality and cross-dressing. But faith-based schools must comply with these provisions. No exceptions.

Darren Patterson Christian Academy is one of those schools. Approved to participate in the program, the school asked for a religious exemption. The department rejected the school’s request.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents the school in a lawsuit, announced that a court has granted the school a preliminary injunction. The school may continue to participate in a way that’s consistent with its religious beliefs while litigation is ongoing.

The court also denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. From ADF:

“If [Colorado officials] enforce the anti-discrimination provisions against [Darren Patterson Christian Academy]—which they have left open the door to do—that will likely violate [the school’s] First Amendment rights,” the court wrote in its opinion in Darren Patterson Christian Academy v. Roy. “Indeed, exclusion of a preschool is inherently anti-universal, and denying participation based on one’s protected beliefs or speech is not equitable.”

ADF noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has reaffirmed the principle that the government can’t “force religious schools to abandon their beliefs and exercise to participate in a public benefit program that everyone else can access.”

Photo credit: Alliance Defending Freedom

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