California State Officials agreed Tuesday to settle for nearly $200,000 with the Church of Compassion and Dayspring Christian Learning Center for trying to bar the church from participating in the state’s preschool lunch program because of its beliefs about gender.
With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian legal advocacy group, the church and learning center filed a lawsuit last June. The ADF and state officials have now filed a settlement agreement requiring California to reimburse the church and center $30,000 for meal expenses without access to the state program and $160,000 for legal fees.
Democrats barred preschool children from the lunch program.
Democrats are monsters who do things like take away food from toddlers as they did here.
Blue state officials agree to pay thousands after barring church from preschool lunch program for beliefs on gender…
— Wendy Patterson (@wendyp4545) January 17, 2024
The suit alleged that officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Social Services would not allow them to participate in the “Child and Adult Food Care Program” because of their religious beliefs regarding gender identity.
“In the name of combatting discrimination, government officials excluded the church and preschool from serving the El Cajon community based solely on their religious beliefs and exercise,” wrote Jeremiah Galus, senior counsel for ADF, in a press release.
“The government can’t withhold food from families in need simply because their children attend a Christian preschool. The Constitution protects the right of Church of Compassion and its preschool to operate according to the dictates of their faith,” said the press release.
“While it shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit to resolve this, at least now Church of Compassion can continue its vital outreach to needy children and families,” Galus added.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM WIN👏
We've settled a case on behalf of Church of Compassion's pre-k, who can now participate in a federal food program without giving up their religious beliefs.
The church will receive over $30k for the meals it provided families and $160k in attorneys' fees.
— Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) January 17, 2024
The Christian preschool had been part of the USDA meal program for nearly twenty years when the department suddenly added rules in 2021 requiring all participating organizations to meet a gender identity non-discrimination standard.
Church of Compassion and Dayspring Christian Learning Center ran afoul of the new requirements for the 2022-23 school year because the organization reserves the right not to use non-biological “preferred pronouns” for students or employees.
The ADF argued that the federal department and California state officials were in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against a church and Christian school over their religious beliefs.