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Blue State Pays Big: Punishing Church for Traditional Beliefs

California state officials have reached a settlement with the Church of Compassion and Dayspring Christian Learning Center, agreeing to pay nearly $200,000. The settlement follows a lawsuit filed by the church, the learning center, and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in June of the previous year. The lawsuit claimed that officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Social Services unfairly excluded them from the “Child and Adult Food Care Program” due to their religious beliefs on gender and sex. As part of the settlement, defendants are required to pay $30,000 for out-of-pocket meal expenses and $160,000 for attorney’s fees.

Jeremiah Galus, senior counsel for ADF, expressed his views, stating that government officials unjustly excluded the church and preschool from community service based solely on their religious beliefs. He emphasized that, while a lawsuit shouldn’t have been necessary, the Church of Compassion can now continue its essential outreach to needy children and families.

The Dayspring Christian Learning Center had been participating in the USDA’s program for almost two decades until the department changed its rules in 2021, mandating participants to commit to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The learning center, along with the Church of Compassion, failed to meet these new requirements for the 2022-2023 school year due to their beliefs on “human sexuality” and their refusal to use pronouns that do not correspond to biological sex.

ADF argued that the USDA and state officials were deliberately discriminating against the church and learning center because of their faith, violating their First Amendment rights. The settlement not only compensates for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred but also highlights the broader issue of government overreach into the operations of religious institutions, raising concerns about the protection of religious freedoms.

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