El Cajon, CA—Today the National Center for Law & Policy (NCLP) and Advocates for Faith and Freedom (AFF) joined forces to file a federal civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The suit challenges the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) unconstitutional decision to permanently cut off public funding allocated to feed needy children at a religious preschool. What led to CDSS’ draconian decision? Simply put, it was the church’s perfectly lawful refusal to abdicate its deeply held religious beliefs regarding human sexuality by capitulating to CDSS’ overreaching demand to immediately and completely align all of its employment decisions, including key positions involved with inculcating religion, to the state’s new divergent sexual orthodoxy.
The Church of Compassion (Church) and its Dayspring Christian Learning Center (Preschool or Dayspring) have been loving their neighbors in El Cajon, California, for decades by identifying and meeting needs in their community. Their neighborhood is home to many immigrants and indigent families. Dayspring is a place where all children and parents are accepted and loved, where laughter and play are cherished and where children’s spiritual, emotional, and physical needs are met. One way the Preschool demonstrates God’s love is by participating in the state Food Program, where public funds are allocated to help feed indigent children.
Late last year, the CDSS threatened to withdraw Food Program funding unless both the Church and Preschool agreed to never consider sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in any and all of their employment decisions. In spite of the fact the federal USDA appropriately exempts religious schools from SOGI mandates, CDSS unlawfully permanently suspended the Preschool and its needy students from the Food Program after the Church and Preschool refused to allow the government to erase and replace their religious beliefs. However, several LGBTQ+ families whose children attend the Preschool, and who understand and appreciate the Preschool’s right to inculcate religion, support Dayspring. These families are concerned about what the CDSS has done and can testify of Dayspring’s good reputation and unbiased treatment.
Constitutional attorney Dean Broyles, who serves as lead counsel, says “It is immoral that California is holding hungry children hostage to its draconian desire to coercively control the Church of Compassion and Dayspring’s religious beliefs and employment practices. Whom churches employ has nothing to do with effectively feeding needy kids, yet the CDSS aggressively abused its power by forcibly imposing its new statist sexual orthodoxy mandates on our clients. In our free nation with a Bill of Rights, the government cannot compel citizens to adopt its preferred ideologies, suppress our religious beliefs, or force us to express only state-approved messages.”
Broyles, continued, “Fortunately, the First Amendment explicitly protects our clients’ free exercise of religion and the freedom of speech from such government overreach. Furthermore, the Establishment Clause forbids government from coercively imposing its new statist religious beliefs regarding human sexuality on our clients or from acting in such an aggressive and controlling manner towards religious institutions. California’s attempted hostile takeover of our places of worship will not stand.”
Julianne Fleischer, counsel with AFF, says “It is abhorrent that California is forcing its sexual orthodoxy upon the Church of Compassion and Dayspring. The First Amendment has no tolerance for the type of government hostility that California is inflicting on the Church.”
“Our Preschool serves all families, but we do not want the government to force us to replace our core values and the essential beliefs of our Christian faith or make us agree to adopt and express the state’s contrary beliefs,” says Kelly Wade Dayspring’s principal.
Plaintiffs seek to enjoin CDSS’ decision to unlawfully withdraw public funds from religious institutions, declare its actions unconstitutional and restore public funding to feed indigent children in El Cajon. Read the federalcomplaint in Church of Compassion v. Bonta here. Attorneys with Advocates for Faith and Freedom serve as co-counsel in this action with the NCLP.
The National Center for Law & Policy is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization dedicated to the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the affirmation of life, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Please visit our website at www.nclplaw.org. For further inquiries, comments, or to schedule interviews, please contact Dean Broyles at The National Center for Law & Policy at 760-747-4529 or firstname.lastname@example.org