Muslim and Jewish groups have united to give support to a Catholic School’s lawsuit challenging a new Michigan law.
Parents from Sacred Heart Academy in Grand Rapids have filed a federal lawsuit against Michigan officials after a civil rights law was amended to allow the state to dictate who the school hires.
The Michigan Civil Rights Act was amended to cover sexual orientation and gender identity but “provided no protection for religious organizations that believe marriage between one man and one woman and the immutability of sex support human flourishing,” according to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who is representing Sacred Heart.
“The missing protections mean that the change to the law requires Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish and its school, Sacred Heart Academy, to hire faculty and staff who lead lives in direct opposition to the Catholic faith, speak messages that violate Church doctrine, and decline to articulate Catholic beliefs in teaching students and when advertising the school to prospective students or job applicants,” ADF said in a statement.
The lawsuit has gained support from the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty and the Religious Freedom Institute’s Islam and Religious Freedom Action Team, both of which say the legislation will have “an especially deleterious effect” on minority faiths, according to a report from Fox News.
“Though the facts underlying this appeal do not involve Islamic or Jewish expression or beliefs, the issue of religious entities’ right to hire coreligionists is of great concern to all faith groups and to minority faiths especially,” the brief filed by the Jewish and Muslim groups in support of Sacred Heart states. “In particular, amici 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.”
The brief added that a “coreligionist” exemption “serves significant constitutional interests by deferring to religious organizations’ own determination of which roles and responsibilities are so tied to the group’s religious mission that they may be filled only by fellow believers.”
“Properly applied, the exemption preserves the autonomy of religious groups; recognizes and respects their unique knowledge of and expertise in their religious beliefs, missions, motivations, and practices; preserves the free exercise rights of religious groups; and prevents state entanglement with religious groups and doctrines,” the groups stated in the joint brief filed in the court.
The report states, “Polish immigrants founded Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish over a century ago. The parish-run academy says that it exists to support parents by providing their children with a classical Catholic education and serves nearly 400 children from pre-K through 12th grade.”