Free Speech

Was Church Excluded from Maryland School Choice Program Because of "Problematic" Views on Marriage?

That's the question in a First Amendment lawsuit, which a federal judge has allowed to go forward.


From Thursday's opinion by Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher in Bethel Ministries, Inc. v. Salmon (D. Md.):

The facts are derived from Bethel's Complaint, and are accepted as true for purposes of this Motion. All reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom are drawn in Bethel's favor….

Bethel is a Pentecostal Christian Church located in Savage, Maryland. As part of the Church's mission, it operates Bethel Christian Academy, a private school for students in preschool through eighth grade. Bethel is "unabashedly Christian," and outwardly shares its Christian beliefs with prospective applicants.

Bethel summarizes its religious beliefs and related practices in its Parent/Student Handbook. The handbook contains a "statement of nondiscrimination," which states, in relevant part, that Bethel "does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs." Bethel does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its statement of nondiscrimination. In the next paragraph, the handbook says, "It should be noted, however, that Bethel Christian Academy supports the biblical view of marriage defined as a covenant between one man and one woman, and that God immutably bestows gender upon each person at birth as male or female to reflect his image … faculty, staff, and student conduct is expected to align with this view."

Irrespective of any language in the handbook, Bethel does not consider sexual orientation in the admissions process. Admissions at Bethel is a competitive process based on a formal entrance exam, an evaluation of previous grades, and a pre-enrollment interview. Once students are admitted, the school's policies apply equally, regardless of a student's sexual orientation or sexual attraction. For example, the student conduct policy prohibits any communication of a sexual nature and any harassment, physical contact, or public displays of affection….

Maryland's legislature established the BOOST program in 2016, and has reauthorized funding in each subsequent year…. BOOST provides scholarships for students to attend nonpublic schools in Maryland. However, only students that are eligible for the free or reduced-price lunch program may receive scholarships.

Additionally, scholarships can be used only at schools that meet certain eligibility requirements. Participating schools must sign an assurance stating that they "will not discriminate in student admissions on the basis of race, color, national origin, or sexual orientation." Even so, the nondiscrimination requirement explicitly states that schools are not required "to adopt any rule, regulation, or policy that conflicts with its religious or moral teachings." Bethel signed the assurance, and started participating in BOOST during the program's inaugural year. Ultimately, seventeen Bethel students received BOOST scholarships for the 2016-2017 academic year, and the number increased to eighteen students for the 2017-2018 academic year.

In the fall of 2017, MSDE began investigating participating schools to verify their compliance with the nondiscrimination requirement. When MSDE specifically requested that schools provide their student handbook, Bethel sent its Parent/Student handbook for the 2017-2018 academic year. Throughout the first half of 2018, Bethel corresponded with MSDE about its handbook and related admissions practices. For example, on March 5, 2018, MSDE asked Bethel how its statement on marriage and biological sex was consistent with the school's assurance that it does not discriminate in admissions based on an applicant's sexual orientation. Bethel responded with a letter, on March 13, 2018, explaining that the school does not consider sexual orientation in admissions, and that all students are forbidden from engaging in any sexual conduct. Bethel has reiterated numerous times to MSDE and to the Advisory Board that it complies with their nondiscrimination provision.

The Advisory Board met on May 3, 2018 to discuss Bethel's eligibility for BOOST. At this meeting, Board Member Matthew Gallagher … made several derisive comments about Bethel and its views. For example, he described the school's view of marriage as "problematic" and suggested that its policy on biological sex violated the nondiscrimination provision. After the May 3 meeting, Defendants requested more information from the school. In response to a follow-up letter from MSDE, Bethel stated that any student who can meet its academic standards is welcome to join the community, regardless of religious beliefs, same-sex attraction, beliefs about marriage, or beliefs about sexual morality.

On June 21, 2018, the Advisory Board met again to consider Bethel's eligibility for BOOST. Without stating a reason for doing so, the Advisory Board members went into closed session. In fact, Defendant Gallagher noted that, prior to the June 21 meeting, the Board had not gone into closed session for three years. Following the closed session, the Advisory Board members voted to exclude Bethel from the BOOST program. On the same day, they voted to deem Broadfording Christian Academy and Grace Academy eligible for BOOST, even though both schools shared Bethel's beliefs and policies on marriage and sexual conduct. On December 12, 2018, MSDE sent a letter (1) notifying Bethel that it was disqualified from BOOST for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 academic years, and (2) demanding repayment of $102,600, for the years Bethel had participated in the program. Due to this disqualification, and the resulting lack of funding, at least six students were forced to leave Bethel. Moreover, other families were left scrambling to find alternate sources of financial aid….

Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants violated several of its First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in the course of deeming the school ineligible for BOOST. The nondiscrimination provision passed by the Maryland legislature states, in relevant part, that schools participating in BOOST cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation "in student admissions." Critically, Bethel has consistently maintained that the school does not discriminate in student admissions on the basis of sexual orientation. The Advisory Board corresponded with Bethel for more than a year about its admissions process and, specifically, about whether the school was compliant with BOOST's nondiscrimination requirement. Bethel explained, in several written responses, that it does not consider sexual orientation or sexual attraction when evaluating applications for admission.

In fact, Defendants have not identified any student that Bethel has discriminated against in admissions on the basis of sexual orientation. As such, Bethel alleged in its complaint—which this Court accepts as true at this stage—that it "has not, and will not, discriminate against a student in admissions based on an applicant's sexual orientation." Despite these assertions, Defendants voted to deem Bethel ineligible for BOOST, based on a perceived lack of compliance with the nondiscrimination provision.

If, as it alleges, Bethel has not discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation in admissions, then it has plausibly alleged that Defendants infringed upon several of its constitutional rights. Namely, Bethel has presented a plausible case that the Advisory Board's determination of ineligibility was motivated by the school's religious affiliation. Bethel is "unabashedly Christian," and has invoked Christian values in all of its materials that are distributed to prospective applicants and their families. Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants deemed it ineligible for BOOST not because of evidence of discrimination in admissions, but because of this Christian identity.

In other words, it is plausible that the Advisory Board, in determining that Bethel violated the nondiscrimination provision, unjustly conflated the school's religious beliefs with discriminatory behavior. This possibility is evinced by the Advisory Board's decision to consider Bethel's eligibility in a closed session, a maneuver that Bethel alleges was a departure from normal procedures.

If the Advisory Board was in fact motivated by Bethel's religious affiliation, then Defendants took several actions that may have infringed upon its First and/or Fourteenth Amendment Rights. For instance, the Complaint alleges that Defendants sent Bethel a document containing examples of how the school might revise its handbook language to retain BOOST eligibility…. Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants regulated the text of the handbook based on its religious character and content. When the government imposes a financial burden on entities because of the content of their speech, such an action may infringe upon their Free Speech rights under the First Amendment. See, e.g., Agency for Int'l Dev. v. Alliance for Open Soc'y Int'l, 570 U.S. 205, 214 (2013).

Additionally, … Bethel has plausibly alleged that Defendants discriminated against it because of the school's religious beliefs, in violation of its rights under the Equal Protection Clause…. Defendants concede that two other schools, Broadfording Christian Academy and Grace Academy, were deemed eligible for BOOST on the same day that Bethel was deemed ineligible. Moreover, according to the Complaint, Broadfording Academy, Grace Academy, and Bethel all have similar beliefs and policies on marriage and sexual conduct. As such, Bethel alleges that Defendants treated its school differently, without any justification. {It is not obvious at this stage whether Defendants discriminated against Bethel and, if so, whether any such discrimination was based on religion or on a different characteristic. Thus, it is unclear whether strict scrutiny or rational basis review would apply. However, Bethel has made its required showing at this stage, regardless of the level of scrutiny.}

For similar reasons, Bethel has met its burden with respect to the other counts in the Complaint. The Complaint provides several examples in which Bethel made clear that sexual orientation is not considered in its admissions process. As noted above, in ruling on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, this Court must take as true that Bethel has not discriminated in admissions on the basis of sexual orientation, and thus, must reasonably infer that Bethel has complied with the nondiscrimination provision enforced by Defendants.

Accordingly, Bethel has pled facts amounting to a plausible showing that Defendants deemed the school ineligible for BOOST because of its religious affiliation, thereby depriving it of rights under the Free Exercise Clause …, Due Process Clause for vagueness …, Due Process Clause for interference with parental rights …, and the Establishment Clause ….


NEXT: Today in Supreme Court History: November 18, 1811

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  1. The dark cloud of intolerance is always descending on the right but usually manages to land on Progressives.

    1. Much more than “usually.”

      Their “counter” is that it’s okay to be intolerant of the intolerant. And conveniently, the “intolerant” are people who hold positions that always to happen to be yours!

      1. They even created a cognitive out so they can reconcile their own intolerance.

        “The Paradox of Tolerance”. They use that to excuse and justify all of their horrific and bigoted behavior.

    2. Defending the entitlement of a bigoted institution — one that refuses to hire a gay janitor, for example, or fires a secretary upon learning the employee is gay — to receive public funds is a strange form of tolerance.

      Carry on, clingers. So far and so long as better Americans permit, anyway.

  2. This is why you should only very reluctantly ever give up ground in the culture war, because they always come for the next hill.

    1. I don’t recall clingers giving ground voluntarily. I recall progress — and science, tolerance, reason, education, modernity, inclusivity, and liberty — being shoved down their whining throats by the liberal-libertarian mainstream.

      Carry on, clingers.

      1. No, they gave ground voluntarily. They could have fought back, but chose not to.

        1. You think so? I think the public was won over to the gay marriage arguments of the left, pretty much at least, by the time it actually happened. Those making the arguments also insisted that the change would be largely immaterial to everyone, that is gays would get married and it would change hospital visitations rules, etc. and *maybe* insurance costs, but that’s about it.

          Personally, I was “meh” because I didn’t think they would jump to trans rights and attacking religion like this. My mistake, I concede.

          I suppose some concessions should have been wrung from the left in exchange, like a stronger RFRA. Then again, the change came from the courts at the national level, precluding that. At the state level, there should have been some sort of compromises put into place via law.

      2. Funny, I already said what you were going to say, in parody of course (because you are yourself a parody) downthread. You needn’t waste your precious time coming here to comment anymore. It would be much better for everyone involved if you would avoid all human contact in the future.

        1. May the better ideas continue to win, and your stale, bigoted thinking continue to lose, in America.

    2. I’m not impressed by the “next hill” slippery-slope argument because each hill should be judged separately on its own merits. In this case, the marriage equality hill should have been surrendered because it was the right thing to do. And it is separately correct to not give up the “punishing for what we believe” hill.

      1. That is a sensible position one can take, if you can point to a time where leftist activists (or conservatives for that matter) in the culture war were satisfied and didn’t immediately push for more.

        1. Your argument against “pushing for more” sounds the same to me as your “next hill” argument. I continue to reject that argument because we should not criticize people for “pushing for more,” whether or not we agree with their position, if they honestly believe it is the right thing to do.

          1. Okay, you can reject the argument, but I’m still waiting on some data that I’m wrong about activists not always trying to push onto the next thing. If you can’t provide any data, than it means that from a rational perspective, it makes sense to never cave on anything without concessions.

            1. Of course activists will push for the next thing. The problem with your argument is it leads to conclusions such as people shouldn’t cave on the Civil Rights Act because activists will next push for affirmative action. What a sorry excuse for not caving on the Civil Rights Act.

              1. Yea, so you’re perhaps not aware of it, but you’re making a case for social reform that assumes a priori that it is a positive change if it occurs.

                Still, you’ve made point then, that activists will *always* push for the next thing, thus the slippery slope fallacy isn’t really a fallacy when it comes to social reform. Therefore, it makes rational sense if one wishes to keep the status quo, or move in the opposite direction, to fight as much as possible to prevent the change desired by the activists. This would be true even if it’s a losing fight, because you’re merely delaying the target shifting to the next thing further in the direction you don’t want it.

                Therefore, from a coldly Vulcan mindset on the matter, one should never give an inch.

                1. That makes sense from the perspective of someone who will forever think that marriage equality is wrong. But, I was arguing something a bit different.

                  A strident opponent of marriage equality argues to those who were previously in his camp, but are now persuaded by arguments from the other side (that’s pretty much what happened), they shouldn’t give in because of the next hill. I would hope they realize that this not a good argument for not supporting marriage equality.

      2. In the OP, it seems pretty obvious “punishing for what we believe” is a likely reason for the exclusion, though two other Christian schools were added at the same time.

        Regardless, there is a wide separation in understanding of what it means to “believe.” Some Christians tend to define “believing” very broadly to include the right to refuse public accommodation up to and including essential medical services. Where belief translates into actions against others, it stops being just “belief” and their actually being punished for what they’re doing to others.

      3. “…the marriage equality hill should have been surrendered because it was the right thing to do.”

        The SCOTUS decision was based on equal treatment under the law. Expanding the domain of relationships subject to the administration of the state leaves open the door for other claimants whose relationships remain uncovered, e.g., polygamous marriage, marriage between brother and sister, trans-species marriages, best friends and other new relationships progressives have yet to foist upon law makers to obtain an implied morally superior seal of approval: the right thing stuff.

        Is it consistent for libertarians to support the expansion of government’s role into yet more personal relationships based on equal treatment under the law? Or is it more consistent to support getting the state out of adminstering all personal relationships: treating everyone equally? Can the state even afford to honor the increased liability associated with Social Security Survivor Benefits accruing under same sex marriage when it can’t even honor the liability that existed prior to the state recognizing same sex marriage?

      4. No, since marriage is a religious institution, it is perfectly sensible – even required – for the religious to defend that hill.

        What should have been given up was the government tying benefits to religious ceremonies. THAT is what was inappropriate and a violation of the First Amendment.

        1. Marriage has never been a religious “institution” – it was literally created to manage property. Over time it evolved which included various religious sects claiming they owned it and to allow marriage between people of different races.

          It simply evolved again.

  3. There’s a reason why the Left is starting to escalate their rhetoric by claiming those sort of views/speech are “violence”.

    What does the State do to people who commit violence against others?

  4. Ouch.
    It appears the Advisory Board is composed of clones like Rev. ArtieK!

    1. Prepare to be replaced, you homophobic bigot, by your betters from below the Rio Grande and Africa and the Middle East, who don’t care about gay marriage and who don’t believe in superstitious religions.

      Choose reason, every time.

  5. The school certainly shouldn’t be barred from the scholarship program for reason they allege, but it’s a little strange that two other schools with the same policies were allowed to participate.

    Maybe we should wait until we hear the board’s reasons before concluding that it must have been an unfair decision.

    1. I agree.

      But lacking other reasons other than discrimination that the Board pro-offered, and the closed door session they board had, (as per this blog post), it’s difficult to conclude that it is anything but religious discrimination.

      Strange, yes, but it’s also possible that it’s a test case, so to speak, because the school was unabashed about it’s stance.

      1. Remember that:

        The facts are derived from Bethel’s Complaint, and are accepted as true for purposes of this Motion.

        1. Let’s see what happens I suppose. Meanwhile, I suppose we can all argue about it here with all the capacity to change it as much as complaining about the weather changes it.

  6. In theory I support taxpayers paying for the education (at least in part) of poor children – and the parent’s judgment of which schools are good is generally better than the judgment of officials who (to put it mildly) don’t exactly give single-minded dedication to the specific child’s welfare.

    I might draw the line at supporting inferior schools. I could support defunding bad schools on a nondiscriminatory basis – that is, defunding bad government-run schools as well as bad private schools – but I think this should be done on the basis of such things as failure to teach literacy, numeracy, or in short the sorts of things schools are supposedly being paid to teach.

    Defending schools based on their having the wrong ideology (if and when that happens, which is the what the court is supposedly going to figure out in the forthcoming trial) is wrong – the reason to cut off a school is if it isn’t properly teaching the three Rs, etc.

    At the same time, I recognize based on the precedent of higher ed that strings come with government aid to private schools, and the government isn’t exclusively focused on academic quality in setting standards for recipients of their money.

    So I don’t want poor-but-promising kids to languish in bad schools, but I also wouldn’t want to end up with private grade schools and high schools getting addicted to the flow of “free” money and the increased number of conditions on getting the money.

    Ideally, wealthy philanthropists, or wealthy foundations which collect small contributions, could step up, but experience teaches that it’s hard to compete with “free government money.”

  7. MD is going to lose this one. Bigly.

  8. If a school were to say that it supports the biblical view that black people are the descendants of Ham and subservient to white people, but it has never discriminated in admitting black students, or that it supports the biblical view that the blood of Jesus is on Jews, but it has never discriminated in admitting Jewish students, should the state simply not care?

    The BOOST program is an activity of the state, and the state should have the ability to administer it as it sees fit.

    1. Perhaps the state should care, but the First Amendment almost certainly precludes the state from excluding a school from the BOOST program because the school thinks blacks are subservient to whites or the blood of Jesus in on the hands of Jews.

      1. I suppose it would depend on what “the school thinks” means, and how it plays out in the school’s actions.

        1. I am assuming the school does not discriminate against blacks or Jews and merely has expressed the above noxious opinions.

          1. Expressing the above noxious opinions to the staff and students in general would create a hostile educational environment for any child who is either black or Jewish.

            While I’d like to think people can hold a deeply negative opinion of a person due to their race, religion, or sexual orientation and still treat them with generosity and kindness, my decades of life experience tell me that this is, at best, very rare.

            1. I’m not familiar with what the threshold is for establishing a hostile educational environment. But, let’s assume in the hypotheticals the opinions are expressed in a similar manner as Bethel has. I’m guessing that wouldn’t constitute a hostile educational environment.

              1. Which, if I read the article correctly, hae nothing to do with that. That’s a federal thing, for acceptance of federal money.

                This is a state thing, and the state’s rule is no discrimination on admissions. The school says we don’t, prove it, good luck. So if they denied them based on their religious teachings instead of what the law says, it could be an issue.

    2. “the biblical view that black people are the descendants of Ham”

      The Biblical account makes the Canaanites the children of Ham, but in any case I would h ope that even a modern-minded, hip court could distinguish between “some of our students are condemned by the Bible to perpetual slavery, hallelujah!” and “sexual relations outside of marriage are wrong and marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” If the two policies are considered equivalent in modern politically correct ideology, there’s something wrong with the ideology.

      1. And to put it in 1A terms, the government has a compelling interest in, at the very least, not subsidizing proslavery propaganda.

        Recall which side of the Civil War won,. Recall which side wrote the 14th Amendment. The side containing the “African slavery is Biblical” people was defeated, and the side containing the “African slavery is unBiblical” people won. For example, John Bingham of 14th Amendment fame:

        “Bingham was born in 1815 and attended Franklin College in New Athens a few miles from his hometown of Cadiz. The Rev. John Walker, a Presbyterian minister and an abolitionist, founded the school, making it a perfect location for Bingham to study, where he graduated in the early 1840s.”

        “”He was basically born an abolitionist,” Pendleton said of Bingham. “He cared very much for African-Americans and their citizenship. I don’t think you can understand Bingham without John Walker. He’s the embodiment of the (secessionist movement).””

        Read alongside the 13th Amendment, I’d say the 14th Amendment allows, or highly encourages, the view that the government has a compelling interest in rooting out what are known as the “badges and incidents” of slavery, including proslavery propaganda. Cutting off subsidies to such propaganda is one of the least restrictive means of accomplishing that end.

        What is the compelling interest for protecting children from the man/woman definition of marriage? Did we fight a civil war with hundreds of thousands of casualties so that this definition could be abolished just as surely and definitively as slavery?

        1. Clarification: John Walker seceded from other Presbyterians (“secessionist movement”), not from the American Union.

  9. While I find all religious people weak minded individuals who need to rely on some fairytale as a crutch to get through their lives, I can still tolerate them as long as they “stay in their lane.”

    What I can’t tolerate is bad government – and bad government held in secret at that.

    Unless other factors come to light, the weak minded, goofy people should win this one.

    1. Oh, how nice, the atheist believes in fairness. Do you want a cookie as a reward and expect some sort of praise?

      Likewise, frankly find smug Dawkins atheists are also very annoying, even more so than a bible literalist, because they engage in the fairy tale belief that they can piece everything together with solely through the power of their own reason. Guilty of the worst groupthink. Moreover, they think they have new insights on things, when the new atheists are just rehashing the same ideas theologians like Thomas Aquinas thought of almost two millennia ago.

    2. You have obviously never had serious contact with Jesuits.

    3. “While I find all religious people weak minded individuals who need to rely on some fairytale as a crutch to get through their lives, I can still tolerate them as long as they “stay in their lane.””

      I’m curious apedad: What do you call the progressive faith in a utopian society if only we elect the right people and give them more control over even minute details of our personal lives?

    4. It seems like you are weak-minded.

  10. “While I find all religious people weak minded individuals…”
    All generalities are bad

    The Bible tends to support polygamy. The New Testament tends to promote one man/one woman unions, it doesn’t preclude any multiple marriages. But, I’m not an expert on Biblical teachings.

    1. It’s clear that you are not an expert on biblical teaching. The new testament doesn’t just promote one man/one woman unions, it’s the only kind that should be allowed according to Jesus’ quoted words, and without divorce I might add.

      That said, if some polygamist converted and was baptized, he wouldn’t have to get divorced from the multiple wives I suppose. I’m no theologian to ask on that point, but the Bible doesn’t support polygamy, but rather Jewish law allowed for it at one time, which is different from supporting.



        DO YOU ALSO FOLLOW CHRIST’S TEACHING … on NEVER defending yourself from assault? Or Mohammed, who CREATED the western principle of justifiable defe nse from physical assault?

        If I punch the side of your head, will you … turn the other cheek?
        You DO understand the Sermon on the Mount, right?


        1. For Christians, I’ve got some bad news for the afterlife. Jesus said to help your neighbor, not pick up a gun and force your neighbor to help your other neighbor.

          Don’t forget to be absolved of that sin before death.

          1. Ah, libertarian Jesus. The only value he wants informing government policy is hating government!

            1. He was crazy???

              1. Well, you clearly are.

                1. (Jesus) was crazy???

                  Well, you clearly are.

                  PISSED because I called out his bullshit upthread, so he scurries down here.

  11. I wonder of someone established a school which was unabashedly “Secular Humanist” and had in it’s handbook a “statement of nondiscrimination,” which states, in relevant part, that the school “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.” In the next paragraph, the handbook says, “It should be noted, however, that the school supports the natural law of marriage defined as a covenant between any number of men, women, or others and that nature immutably bestows gender choice upon each person at birth and at any time there after as male or female or other to reflect his own self image … faculty, staff, and student conduct is expected to align with this view.”

    1. Hmm, I’m waiting for a Madrassa to come looking for BOOST funds.

  12. “Board Member Matthew Gallagher”

    Bigot and petty tyrant in one package.

    He seems to be CEO of a Baltimore foundation called Goldseker Foundation. It specifically does not fund religious organizations so his bigotry is at least consistent.

    1. YOU say they cannot have a purpose without YOUR approval?
      EVERY organization MUST support at least one religious organization … or they are BIGOTED!! ON WHAT AUTHORITY??

      MOST foundations have a specific purpose oR goals. FEW support religious organIzations ,… WHO DO THEIR OWN FUNDRAISING. duh.

      The (Goldseker) foundation remains a directly engaged and active partner with our grantees in their efforts to revive and sustain vibrant neighborhoods, strengthen and market great schools, and expand and improve the effectiveness of their programs

      Thank GOD we have a Constitution to defend us from you people.

  13. Christian voters will go into the 2020 election with a choice of voting for
    (1) Trump, who has lived a sinful life but has shown that he will protect the rights of Christians
    (2) A democrat candidate who supports using the power of the state to crush Christians into submission ( see this case and Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission)
    Gee, what a tough choice . . . . .

    1. You can play the meta game, and continue to split power at the federal level, so little way off to either side actualmy gets done.

      I keep saying from that perspective, Trump has accomolished little, which is a good thing.

      Lots of raging, but that’s how giant memeplexes work — gather followers via spreading ideas to seize power, so you no longer just have to use ideas.

      Be they religions or political platforms.

  14. It is important to note that (1) not all religious organizations or believers are bigoted and (2) bigotry in not improved by being cloaked in superstition-based claims.

    How much longer is society expected to enable religious claims to play ‘heads we win, tails you lose’ with ‘we can discriminate against anyone or everyone else, but no one can discriminate against us?’ As church attendance and reported religious affiliation, decline, religious believers might wish to promote a circumstance in which they are willing to operate on either side of a generally applicable standard.

    1. Are there two Rev. Arthur Kirklands? A religious fundamentalist who appeals to “decency” and opposes freedom of choice, and this Rev. Arthur Kirkland who claims to hate everything the other Rev. Arthur Kirkland claims to stand for?

      I would hate to see the arguments you must have with yourself when you are alone, sir. You don’t just hate yourself singularly. You hate yourself doubly.

      1. Way to go, Bigot.

  15. Town of Greece v. Galloway, interpreted broadly, arguably represents a sea change in government subsidy of religious activity. Prior to Town of Greece, religious messages subsidized by government were considered government messages, and courts not merely permitted but sometimes required rules preventing messages considered appropriate for government. Under the prior rule, a government message that favored a particular religion was considered an Establishment Clause violation.

    But Town of Greece changed the paradigm. It said these messages are religious messages, not government messages at all. And therefore it is government attempts to interfere with the content of the message that represent an establishment of religion. What was previously required was now forbidden.

    Interpreted broadly, Town of Greece would suggest that government cannot interfere with a religious society’s message, or membership rules, merely because it happens to provide it subsidies. Indeed, if it subsidizes religions whose message and rules it agrees with and not those whose message and rules it disagrees with, that very act represents an unconstitutional establishment of religion in violation of the First Amendment.

  16. Even so, the nondiscrimination requirement explicitly states that schools are not required “to adopt any rule, regulation, or policy that conflicts with its religious or moral teachings.”

    Which is interesting. You can trump our voodoo with your voodoo, but not with actual biology.

    1. Unconstitutional. Blatantly.

  17. Bethel does not discriminate IN ADMISSIONS … if the the student is willing to be treated as a Spawn of Satan by the school and their classmates. Get real!

    The Free Exercise is only half of Freedom OF and FROM. The founders were quite explicit on that. After all, the (un)Holy Inquisition was still committing moral atrocities until roughly our Civil War … an EXPLICIT union of Church and State (the state provided punishment for offenses judged by the church). And, of course, as we all learned in high school, many came here to escape church/state abuses.

    Ironically, Jefferson’s “Wall of Separation” letter was in response to fears of religious discrimination by …. Baptists!

    The Treaty of Tripoli was negotiated under Washington, late in his Presidency, ratified unanimously in the Senate which was still roughly half Founders, and signed by Adams. Article 11 states, as its opening premise, “Whereas the United States was not founded, IN ANY SENSE, on the Christian religion.” (my emphasis)

    So we have the first three Presidents, and a unanimous Senate in the 9th year of our Republic … all confirming what Jefferson called “a wall of separation.” Church/state theocrats have … nothing and nobody. Zip.

    As an atheist on a local school board, . I publicly defended our use of public funds to support aspects of our local Catholic schools … textbooks and bussing to area Catholic high schools, which REALLY pissed off many people! And I’ve often acknowledged the hysteria among anti-religionists. (Madelyn Murray O’Hare was an atheist on faith alone! 🙂 ) Christian conservatives were my strongest supporters for election. They knew I’m an atheist, they always ask! And didn’t give a shit. I stated, and they saw, I am non-religious, not anti-religious … quite common among libertarians.

    I literally humiliated our Superintendent, who tried to close down ALL our after-school clubs … for anti-religious reasons the he said “some will object.”. Having established that I was the only atheist in the meeting hall, “What *I* object to is punishing our entire high school because a few kids might say a prayer in Hi-Y … a perfectly constitutional prayer (had just been ruled. What *I* object to is … the Holy Inquisition … in reverse.” (Yes I played the crowd. Yes I enjoyed the cheering. Yes, the Super immediately adjourned the meeting and stormed out of the hall! I paid back my supporters.)

    Bethel, however, should not receive that funding, partly because of their mistaken views. Marriage was not a church sacrament until 1500 years after the death of Christ. Marriage had been a TOTALLY private matter, often between the groom and the wife’s father … so NOBODY knows what marriage was like for most of human history … and homosexuality goes back to at least ancient Greece. NOBODY “decides” to be a different gender. It’s hormonal. I learned that in high school, over 50 years ago

    This is not discrimination against religion. It’s about religious practices which have been unconstitutional since our founding .., and the fact that marriage and sexual identification are CHOSEN by SOME Christian denominations and/or organizations, thus not expressly Christian (or any other religion).

    The length here is to assure SERIOUS Christians that we are not enemies, perhaps merely disagree on some issues. (And to minimize any assaults). Religious beliefs can run very deep. But the Constitution and its history are quite clear. And historically justified..

    1. Separation of Church and State means that the State has no say on the dogma of any particular religion. That means it cannot base eligibility for government programs on whether that religion holds government approved beliefs.

      1. OF and FROM.

        1. Yes, but they crafted the law poorly if you want that to apply. It specifically states discrimination on admissions and only that, and specifically exempts wherever it conflicts with a religious school’s religion.

          1. That’s why things can be ruled unconstitutional. And that certainly seems to be.

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