Religious Schools Should Reject Government Funds

The state of California has agreed to pay a Christian preschool over $30,000, and its attorneys $160,000, as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the school against the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) over the school’s biblical beliefs on gender and sexuality.

The Church of Compassion in El Cajon, California, owns and operates the Dayspring Learning Center preschool and daycare program. It “maintains biblically orthodox religious beliefs and practices regarding human sexuality, as most Christian churches have faithfully maintained for the past two thousand years.” Dayspring teachers are required to subscribe to a statement of faith. Parents of children who attend the school are provided with a handbook which includes the school’s articles of faith and mission statement. Dayspring maintains “sex-separated bathrooms and dress codes for boys and girls based on their biological differences and cannot agree to use any child or employee’s ‘preferred’ pronouns that do not correspond to biological sex.” The church and school “only hire those who share and live out their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about human sexuality.” Bad Therapy: Why the K... Shrier, Abigail Best Price: $14.99 Buy New $19.25 (as of 06:32 UTC - Details)

There is certainly nothing wrong with any of this. But herein lies the problem: the school receives federal funds for feeding children.

Approximately 40 percent of the students qualify for free meals under the Child and Adult Care Food Program—“a federal program that provides reimbursements for nutritious meals and snacks to eligible children and adults who are enrolled for care at participating child care centers, day care homes, and adult day care centers.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the program nationwide, and provides funding to California to administer the program via the CDSS.

The church and school participated in the Food Program for twenty years, receiving around $3,500-$4,500 a month to help feed needy students. To participate, “the Church had to submit an annual application which includes signing Civil Rights Compliance paperwork each year.” Beginning in 2022, after the Biden administration redefined “sex” in Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the USDA began requiring participating schools to post new “And Justice for All” posters and adopt new nondiscrimination statements saying: “In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), age, disability, reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity.”

Because the church and school refused to comply, the CDSS denied their application for participation in the Food Program. After a lawsuit was filed by the church and school in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California against officials of the CDSS, Thomas Vilsack (the Secretary of the USDA), and the USDA, a settlement was reached, and the CDSS agreed to reimburse Dayspring the sum of $30,478.96, plus $160,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by the plaintiffs.

Religious organizations that accept government funds are naïve and foolish to think that there won’t be or shouldn’t be any strings attached to the receipt of those funds.

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Feeding hungry children is certainly a noble enterprise, but it should be remembered that government has no resources of its own. Every dollar given to some religious organization for some gallant cause has to first be taken from American taxpayers. Using stolen funds to perform charitable works does not sanctify the stolen funds.

Religious organizations needing help to feed children should partner with corporations, food banks, grocery stores, and restaurants, but they should never make a deal with the devil and accept government funds.

If religious organizations can’t pay their expenses or carry out their mission without the help of government funds, then they should cut their expenses, change their mission, or close their doors.

Religious schools should reject any and all government funds.