(CBS DETROIT) - Libertas Christian School, a pre-K through 12th Grade Christian school serving 265 students in Hudsonville, Michigan, has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court, Western District of Michigan, to stop threats of imprisonment and promises by Governor Whitmer's Administration to shut down the school. Motions were also filed by the school seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the State of Michigan.
Through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ottawa County Health Department, the Whitmer Administration has made repeated demands on the school since September 4, including that kindergarteners always wear masks while in school, including during chapel and outdoor recess. There has also been a pattern of threats of civil and criminal penalties delivered by officials.
"This violates the First Amendment rights of assembly and religion for the school's 265 students, as well as parents and staff. It is a shocking and audacious abuse of power, which started on the first day of school on September 4, and has continued despite the unanimous ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court declaring Governor Whitmer's related Executive Orders unlawful," said Ian Northon, special counsel for The Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society which is representing Libertas Christian School."The County's animus toward religion in this case is clear and compelling," said Northon.
"There is no one more concerned about the students' health and safety at Libertas Christian School than their parents and the school staff. There has not been a single positive test for COVID or any cases of symptomatic students at the school and the students are healthy and thriving. The state's actions, if allowed to prevail, will not only disrupt the children's education and faith practice, but will do great harm to the children and others," said Mr. Northon.
"The Whitmer Administration lost before the highest court in Michigan and is now sidestepping the Michigan Constitution to violate the most basic rights of the students and parents," said Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society. "We will strongly support the students and parents as they stand up to bullies who are willing to use the full apparatus of the state against the students and parents of Libertas Christian School."
The Amistad Project is battling Governor Whitmer in five cases filed in various Michigan courts and "will continue to challenge Governor Whitmer who has removed herself from the lawmaking process and has instead declared herself to be the law," Kline said. "My question for the Governor is, when did she lose faith in democracy?" Kline added.
The lawsuit, Libertas Classical Ass'n v. Whitmer, et al., case number 1:20-cv-997, was filed over the weekend to protect students. The Thomas More Society, a not-for-profit public interest law firm, is providing financial support for Libertas Christian School's legal actions so that students and parents are not burdened by legal costs.
For more information on this and related issues, go to got-freedom.org.
This summer, Libertas Christian School developed a comprehensive plan for in-person education. The plan had the widespread support of school parents, all of whom chose to send their students to the school for in-person instruction. In fact, enrollment increased by approximately 50 students this year as other parents were concerned about the welfare of their children. Parents can send their children to the school three days a week as part of a homeschool enrichment program or five days a week at their discretion, a longstanding practice at Libertas.
Citing an anonymous complaint over chapel singing, and without visiting the school or exploring options for the operation of the school with the Headmaster, the County and State are demanding that Libertas cease and desist all operations, which would prevent it from performing its core mission of providing a classical, Bible-based education to its students.
Hudsonville, Michigan is the Midwest's Salad Bowl, a rural community in West Michigan's Lower Peninsula. Libertas Christian School is on church-owned property and surrounded by farms. Ottawa County includes the small towns of Zeeland, Jenison, and Holland, which were settled mainly by waves of Dutch immigrants seeking religious freedom and a better life when European governments became increasingly hostile to organized religion in the late 1800s and at the turn of the last century. The mission of Libertas Christian School is to partner with parents to educate and disciple children consistent with a Biblical worldview.
SOURCE Amistad Project
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