Los Angeles (January 14, 2020) – Freedom X has sued Inspire Charter Schools – a controversial network of public charter schools operating throughout California – for rejecting the application of a family-run Christian business to provide art instruction to students because the family openly acknowledges its religious faith on its website.
The lawsuit was filed on Monday on behalf of the business, called “Our Peculiar Family,” and the four sisters (Elisabeth, Hannah, Melissa and Christiana Macy of Rosamond, CA) who operate it in federal court in Los Angeles. The Complaint alleges violations of their First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty. The lawsuit additionally alleges that the charter school network violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause by exhibiting hostility toward their religious expression and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, which bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of religion.
Our Peculiar Family draws its name from the Bible and quotes from 1 Peter 2:9 on its website: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Last September, Inspire notified the Macys that their application would not be approved because “[t]he services appear to be religious in nature or have religious inclinations. Services that contain religious content of any kind are not considered enrichment eligible and cannot be covered with our students’ general education instructional funds.”
The school’s vendor director, Caleb Jones, later confirmed that the decision not to accept the Macys’ art instruction vendor services was “based upon the content included on your website. All services and content on websites must be secular in nature for a vendor to be eligible for enrichment funds.”
Said Freedom X president/chief counsel Bill Becker, “Imagine losing a contract over a gay rainbow image on your website, or because you’re an African-American operated business. It is doubtful they would be told to remove references to their identities before Inspire would be willing to contract with them. Openly acknowledging your religious faith is no different.”
Becker added, “Federal courts have made it clear that conditions placed on public benefits cannot purposefully inhibit or deter the exercise of First Amendment freedoms.”