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Church preschool's federal food funding revoked over 'orthodox religious beliefs' regarding sex and gender, lawsuit claims: 'Hungry kids should matter more than a political agenda'

Photo by JENS SCHLUETER/AFP via Getty Images

A California church filed a lawsuit on Friday against the Biden administration's U.S. Department of Agriculture and California's Department of Social Services after the church's federal food funding was revoked due to its "orthodox religious beliefs" regarding sex and gender, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

The Church of Compassion in El Cajon, California, which operates the Dayspring Learning Center, has been participating in the USDA's "Child and Adult Food Care Program" for nearly 20 years.

As part of the program, the church's preschool received approximately $3,500 to $4,500 per month "to help cover food-related costs for indigent students," the lawsuit stated.

According to the complaint, recent government mandates prohibit houses of worship that "maintain traditional religious beliefs regarding human sexuality" from participating in the anti-hunger program.

The church received a notice in October from Jessie Rosales, chief of the Child and Adult Care Food Programs of the California Department of Social Services, stating that the church's program would lose funding if it did not meet the requirements of the nondiscrimination policy, which forces "employees to read and abide by a handbook that specifically disallows 'lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles.'"

In December, the church program's funding was revoked because it failed to comply with the "'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity' nondiscrimination provisions," the lawsuit claimed.

The church, represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that its preschool serves all families, including individuals who identify as LGBTQ+.

The lawsuit, filed on June 2, accused the USDA and the CDSS of violating the church's free exercise and free speech rights.

On Monday, Alliance Defending Freedom announced the lawsuit on its Twitter account.

"We've sued the Biden admin and CA officials for unlawfully pulling federal food funds from a church preschool, due to the school's beliefs on sexuality," it stated. "The school feeds many low-income & immigrant children. Hungry kids should matter more than a political agenda."

The Christian legal advocacy group slammed the government for "unlawfully" revoking the funds.

"The government is withholding food from families in need simply because their children attend a Christian preschool. This violates the U.S. Constitution and multiple federal laws that protect Church of Compassion and its preschool to operate according to the dictates of their faith," said ADF Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus. "Ironically, in the name of combatting discrimination, government officials have excluded the church and preschool from serving the El Cajon community based solely on their religious beliefs and exercise. This is antithetical to the First Amendment's promise of religious freedom and only hurts needy families and children."

The DCNF reported that a CDSS spokesperson stated that the agency could not comment on pending litigation, and the USDA did not reply to a request for comment.

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