Maine's Christian schools can't catch a legal break in fight to remain free

Maine's Christian schools can't catch a legal break in fight to remain free

Maine's Christian schools can't catch a legal break in fight to remain free

The attorney representing a Christian school in Maine says the public needs to know what is happening to Christians in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly handed them a First Amendment victory two years ago.

In a federal court ruling this week, Bangor Christian School was told by the court it must adhere to the LGBT-worshipping Maine Human Rights Act, even though that state law conflicts with the biblical beliefs of the school and its sponsor, CrossPoint Church.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Woodcock denied a preliminary injunction sought by the school in its ongoing federal lawsuit against state officials. He wrote that education-related provisions in the state law “do not violate the Free Exercise Clause because they are neutral, generally applicable, and rationally related to a legitimate government interest.”

Patterson, Lea (First Liberty) Patterson

Lea Patterson, senior counsel at First Liberty Institute, tells AFN the school’s legal setback from Judge Woodcock comes after the school was punished when it won a big ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That high court decision in 2022, Carson v. Makin, said Maine was wrong to block parents from using a state tuition program if they chose to use those funds for a private school.

That lawsuit involved parents from Bangor Christian School and from a second school, Temple Academy.

But that legal win was short-lived. After what appeared to be a First Amendment win, Maine’s liberal legislators went back to the Human Rights Act and tinkered with its language to force those schools to abide by the anti-religious state law.

Attorney general demands 'tolerance'

AFN reported two years ago that Maine’s liberal attorney general, Aaron Frey, was irate over the Carson v Makin decision and vowed revenge.

"I am terribly disappointed and disheartened by today’s decision," Frey (pictured below) said in a statement. “Public education should expose children to a variety of viewpoints, promote tolerance and understanding, and prepare children for life in a diverse society.”

In that "diverse society" imagined by the Far Left, however, “tolerance and understanding” only go in one direction. Hence biblical teachings about sin, human sexuality, and even the traditional role of a husband and father were all blasted by Frey as “fundamentally at odds with the values we hold dear.”

Regarding the state’s Christian schools, the Attorney General said they “promote a single religion to the exclusion of all others, refuse to admit gay and transgender children, and openly discriminate in hiring teachers and staff.”

Patterson and First Liberty call the anti-religious change in the state law a “poison pill provision” because Frey and state legislators were knowingly punishing faith-based schools for their biblical beliefs.

And that change to the law, she says, is why the federal lawsuit was filed.

“It's important to make sure that religious schools are able to participate the same way as anyone else can participate,” she says, “and can still remain options in the school choice program."