On Monday, a group of Ohio-based Christian schools filed a lawsuit against the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) after it ordered the schools to close their physical locations for six weeks in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to CBN News, the Ohio Christian Education Network (OCEN) and three Christian Schools accuse the order of being unconstitutional. They added that the health department ignores medical data showing that schools are safe for children.
Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values, which operates OCEN, explained that the order violated religious freedom by denying the right to “provide religious instruction.”
"First Amendment freedoms don't go on a holiday break," Baer said. "The Lucas County Health Department has not only violated the religious liberty rights of Christian schools and students by denying them the right to provide religious instruction, but they've threatened the futures and mental health of Lucas County students."
"Despite all the medical evidence and experts that continue to say one of the safest places for children to be is in school, Lucas County has taken aggressive action to deny children the right to in-person education,” he continued. “Meanwhile, they've let casinos, strip clubs, liquor stores, and concerts continue. We cannot sit idly by while children and freedoms are being harmed," he asserted.
The plaintiffs listed in the lawsuit are Monclova Christian Academy, St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy, and Emmanuel Christian School.
"For many parents, teachers, and private school administrators, providing faith-based instruction is an act of worship," the suit states.
“Regardless of how well-intentioned TLCHD may be, the Resolution is misguided and violates the federal Constitution by burdening religious institutions yet failing to prohibit other gatherings that pose more sinister health risks to community spread," the suit continues.
The complaint was filed by Legal counsel Brian Fox with Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP on behalf of OCEN and the Christian schools.
Fox reportedly attempted to set up a meeting with a director of the health board and the Christian schools to discuss “the most reasonable path forward,” but the request was overlooked by the health board director leading him to file the complaint.
According to the order, all Lucas County schools, including public, private, charter, and parochial institutions, are to close all buildings from Dec. 4 to Jan. 11, with minimal exceptions.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Eccolo74
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.