California Christian School Fights for Right to Hire Believers Only

By:  Michael Tennant
01/30/2013
       
California Christian School Fights for Right to Hire Believers Only

A Christian school in California is suing to preserve its right to hire only Christians after two teachers who were dismissed for refusing to provide written evidence of their faith threatened the school with a lawsuit.

Does a Christian school have the right to hire only Christians? At one time in American history, the answer to such a question would have been obvious. Today, however, a southern California Christian school is suing two former employees in order to preserve its own religious liberty.

In 2009, Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks, California, bought the previously secular Little Oaks School, also in Thousand Oaks. According to the Ventura County Star,

While the vast majority of religious schools are nonprofit and tax-exempt, church leaders said they organized Little Oaks as a for-profit because they were on a tight deadline. They said forming a tax-exempt corporation is a lengthy process.

They said the school is operated not as a profit-generating entity but as a spiritual arm of the church. Its students include about 130 children in preschool through fifth grade.

Last year the church “started requiring employees to fill out questionnaires which asked whether they attended church, which church they attended and what the pastor had to say about their beliefs,” reports Los Angeles television station KNBC.

“We’re a Christian school,” the Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of the church and headmaster of the school, told the Star. “We were coming to the point where we were establishing a Christian curriculum. We wanted to make sure teachers subscribed to that faith.”

Two preschool teachers — Lynda Serrano, who had been employed by the school since 2006, and Mary Ellen Guevara, who was hired in 2011 — refused to cooperate, and their contracts were not renewed. The women threatened to sue the school but said they would settle the case for $150,000 apiece.

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