A Catholic school in Michigan is asking an appeals court for help in stopping a takeover of the institution by leftist politicians who want it to promote their sex ideologies.
It is the St. Joseph Parish, in a lawsuit against Attorney General Dana Nessel and other state officials, that is asking the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to "protect its ability to guide its church and school community" without following the political and ideological demands of state officials.
At issue is a new state demand that that makes it illegal for St. Joseph "to hire staff who agree to uphold its religious beliefs and bars it from maintaining a church and school environment that reflects its faith," according to a report from Becket, a specialized legal team that fights for Americans' religious rights.
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The lawsuit had been dismissed earlier by a lower court, so St. Joseph is asking the appellate judges to reinstate the action, and let "St. Joseph run its parish and school activities consistent with its Catholic beliefs about human sexuality and marriage."
"For over a century, St. Joseph has existed to serve its local community and help its parish and school grow deeper in the faith," said William Haun, senior counsel at Becket. "St. Joseph must have the freedom to foster an environment that is faithful to its Catholic identity to continue that mission."
In fact, Becket reported, St. Joseph Catholic Church has since 1857 served the local Catholic community of St. Johns, Michigan.
It started its school in 1924 to give Catholic families "a Catholic education rooted in the teachings of the church."
As most religious schools, it hires teachers and staff to support and advance the Catholic beliefs.
And it asks them to be practicing Catholics and to uphold the faith.
It also treats children as boys and girls, and provides separate locker rooms and bathrooms, which in today's world is an offense to the transgender ideology that Joe Biden has been promoting from the White House.
But the state changed its civil rights law specifically to provide special protections for "sexual orientation and gender identity" and deliberately left out any protections for religious organizations.
That led Nessel to describe Michigan residents of faith as "bigots."
The state has, in fact, admitted that its agenda penalizes the Catholic school just for exercising its religion. It has ordered the school to ask for state permission if it wants to live by its faith.
"Constitutional rights don’t come with permission slips. Michigan cannot tell St. Joseph and every other religious organization in the state that they are breaking the law by staying true to their religious beliefs," said Haun. "We are asking the court to step in and ensure that religious groups across the state can live out their faith and not be sued simply because they open their doors to everyone."
The appellate court filing explains the state's goal was to "penalize religious objectors who could not endorse same-sex marriage or gender transitions."
The fact that the district court failed to recognize and act on the state's violation of St. Joseph's constitutional rights is reversible error, the filing charges.
"St. Joseph is engaged in core religious exercise: worshipping and handing on the faith," the filing explains. And the document notes that the Constitution allows the school to "uphold its Catholic identity."
The state adopted a novel "reinterpretation" of the law and then prosecuted those religious individuals and organizations that failed to follow that leftist ideology, the filing explains.
Nessel officially attacked those of faith, saying they are not religious heroes, but "bigots."
When the law was considered in the legislature, state Sen. Jeremy Moss said government must prevent "religion" from discriminating "against someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity."
That ideology, in fact, conflicts with recent Supreme Court precedent on the same issue.
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