A Catholic school in Michigan, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, is contesting a state law that it believes would compel the school to violate its religious principles by hiring individuals who do not adhere to Catholic teachings.
The law, which extends sex discrimination prohibitions to cover sexual orientation and gender identity, could force the school to employ staff who do not align with its faith-based message.
The school is being supported by Jewish and Muslim groups in its legal battle. (Trending: Donald Trump Confronts Bud Light CEO)
The lawsuit argues that the law infringes upon the school’s free speech and free exercise rights and could result in discriminatory claims.
“In particular, [the groups] fear that the misapplication or retrenchment of the coreligionist exemption would have an especially deleterious effect on adherents of minority religious faiths who often organize collectively to learn, teach, act, and serve as an expression and exercise of their faith,” write the complainants.
They object to the current “discretionary exemption scheme that starts with a burdensome application process and ends by hoping that a bureaucrat will deign to dole out an exemption” by Democratic state Attorney General Dana Nessel.
Sacred Heart of Jesus claims that they would be forced to “hire faculty and staff who lead lives in direct opposition to the Catholic faith, speak messages that violate Church doctrine, and refrain from articulating Catholic beliefs in teaching its students and when advertising the school to prospective students or job applicants.”
“All of this violates Sacred Heart’s free speech and free exercise rights,” states the brief.
“Rather than defy Catholic doctrine in these ways, Sacred Heart would shut down,” promised the plaintiffs.
According to the lawsuit, “Sacred Heart’s standard of conduct requires that employees must be consistent, in expression and example, with the teaching and practice of the Catholic faith and shall not advocate, encourage, or counsel beliefs or practices that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith.”
“If churches and religious organizations cannot limit their membership to those who support and believe in an organization’s or community’s culture and mission, it changes and undermines those institutions,” warned the brief.
The school fears aggressive government enforcement and believes it is being compelled to choose between compromising its religious beliefs or shutting down.