Churches play a vital role in supporting and caring for communities. When churches are barred from doing their jobs, people are forced to rely on the government for aid, which often leads to dependency lasting generations. Unfortunately, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is exacerbating this issue.
In October of last year, CDSS told a San Diego church that it had to adopt sweeping new “non-discrimination” policies, and affirm anti-Christian sexual identities within 15 days or the state would remove its taxpayer funding that is used to feed indigent children. These policies, if adopted, would force the church to hire transsexual preschool teachers or homosexual youth pastors, among other things.
While fully aware of the church’s biblical beliefs on sexuality, CDSS demanded that in all of their policies and practices, the church and its preschool not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In doing so, the state is coercively trying to force its ideologies on churches and ministries, in violation of the religious Free Exercise and Free Speech clauses of the First Amendment.
The Church of Compassion reached out to the National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP) which is advocating for the church and its Dayspring Christian Learning Center pre-school.
The CDSS temporarily reinstated funding for the church after receiving a legal demand letter and administrative appeal from NCLP. However, the CDSS did not agree to stop placing unconstitutional requirements on churches or threaten to revoke funding.
The good news is that NCLP is preparing a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging California’s burdensome LGBT mandates to the church. This case goes beyond the Church of Compassion and its pre-school. It could protect the rights of thousands of other churches and ministries that hold biblical worldviews and receive government funding to serve those in need in their communities.
“The state has no authority to force its woke sexual orthodoxy on religious institutions,” stated NCLP’s president and chief counsel Dean Broyles. “If the First Amendment means anything, it must mean that the state has no jurisdiction to coerce a church, using either carrots or sticks, to compromise or abdicate its deeply held biblical beliefs about human sexuality or force religious organizations to implement statist sexual ideologies… The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that states may not deny neutrally available taxpayer funds to organizations—simply because the organization is religious and maintains religious beliefs. The state must stay in its lane here. The CDSS’s actions are egregious, are blatantly unconstitutional and will not stand.”
The First Amendment prohibits the government from telling people what they must say, as the CDSS did to the Church of Compassion. Further, the government ‘“may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected … freedom of speech even if he has no entitlement to that benefit,’” as the NCLP wrote in its legal demand letter.
On January 30, 2023, the CDSS notified the church that its funding to feed poor children was permanently terminated because of the church’s biblical beliefs about human sexuality. Hopefully, NCLP’s lawsuit sets a vital precedent. Every church has the right to operate in accordance with its religious beliefs.