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Christian preschool sues over provider requirements for Colorado's Universal Preschool program

Darren Patterson Christian Academy said their religious freedoms would be violated if they aren't able to only hire employees of their own believe system
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Posted at 9:29 PM, Jun 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-24 00:27:58-04

BUENA VISTA, Colo. — The Darren Patterson Christian Academy is one of the few Christian schools in Chaffee County.

"It's open to families and children of all faiths and background. You don't have to share necessarily the school's religious beliefs to attend there," said Jeremiah Galus, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom who is representing the school in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

He explained as a Christian organization, they hire consistently with their faith and require employees to share their convictions.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission does say according to Title VII, "religious organizations are permitted to give employment preference to members of their own religion."

Galus said that right is being violated by the requirements set by the state to participate in Colorado's Universal Preschool program.

"The state of Colorado and the state agency responsible for administering the program requires applicants and participants to sign off on certain assurances. One of the assurances that they were asked to sign off on would require them to no longer expect their employees, or require their employees, to share their religious beliefs, and to live out those religious beliefs," said Galus.

Christian preschool sues over provider requirements for Colorado's Universal Preschool program

Denver7 reached out to and followed up with the Colorado Department of Early Childhood for a comment. Several days have passed and we have not received a response.

The service agreement between the state and preschool providers wanting to participate does say: "Provider shall not discriminate against any person on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, education, disability, socio-economic status, or any other identity."

The school said their religious beliefs about sexuality and gender as it relates to restrooms, pronouns and housing on field trips must be accepted by their employees.

"The Supreme Court has said time and again, and across three recent cases, that the government cannot require religious institutions to give up their religious beliefs and exercise to participate in otherwise generally available government programs," said Galus.

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