A Wisconsin town has enacted a far-reaching non-discrimination ordinance that threatens the religious liberty of churches and religious organizations. But one attorney asserts it won't go unchallenged.
Angels of Hope Preschool in De Pere does not hide the fact that it is a Christian preschool, as it aims to keep "a family-friendly, Christian environment."
But a controversial city ordinance would make it impossible to guarantee that the teachers at Angels of Hope agree with the school's mission – or that one day they will not show up to class claiming to have changed genders.
Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute is in a federal court representing the daycare's owner, Hope Lutheran Church, four other churches, and a radio station.
"This ordinance is a direct assault on the First Amendment rights, the free exercise rights of religious institutions, of ministries in that it tells them that they have to be willing to hire employees that live lives and have lifestyles – sexual and otherwise – that may go totally against their religious beliefs and what the Bible teaches," he comments.
The measure does include a religious freedom exemption, but it only protects the churches if they limit their preference to someone of the same religion. But as the attorney points out, plenty of people claim to be Christians.
"So long as an employee affirms that they're a part of the same religion, then there is absolutely no further protection for a religious institution when it comes to carrying out its faith with regards to hiring, usage of its facilities, or advertising," Dacus submits.
He calls this ordinance the most radical of its kind.
"This case is the tip of the spear of a wave and a movement across this country of growing hatred and intolerance and bigotry against people of faith and institutions of faith," Dacus says.