A Christian school in Oregon is claiming the state discriminates against private, religious schools when it comes to reopening amid COVID.
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the K-12 school, and it reads: “Defendants’ COVID-19 orders and guidance generally prohibit in-person instruction but grant a ‘small school’ exception to public schools while denying the same exception to private religious schools (‘Religious School Closure’) in Umatilla County.”
The lawsuit alleges that Governor Brown at first led the school’s leaders to believe that they would be allowed to meet in-person if they met certain health guidelines. But Brown eventually shut down private schools both in Umatilla County and other parts of the state at the end of July. However, public schools were granted an exemption if they maintained 75 students or fewer. (Hermiston Christian has a current student body of 51.)
The lawsuit also claimed that Brown changed course because she feared a decline in public school enrollment. Meanwhile, the lawsuit stated that Hermiston Christian could be forced to close for good – after 41 years in service – if the discriminatory orders stay in place.
“The virus does not discriminate between public and religious schools; neither should the government,” the suit reads. “There is no basis for Defendants to grant a special exception for public schools while denying the same treatment to religious schools.”
As part of the First Amendment, religious freedom is one of our most fundamental rights. Americans have a duty to defend that right, and we owe it to the children who receive their education through private, religious schools.