Bethel Ministries v. Salmon

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Description:  Maryland officials revoked a church-run school’s eligibility to participate in a voucher program to benefit low-income students and demanded the school pay back thousands of dollars for previous participation in the program. Although the school fully complied with the program’s requirements, state officials disqualified Bethel from participating in the program after reading Bethel’s Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality, even though the school has not—and will not—turn down a student based on their sexual orientation. The school only simply asks students to refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct.

DOJ files official support for MD Christian school banned from scholarship program

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The following quote may be attributed to Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb regarding the U.S. Department of Justice’s statement of interest filed in federal court Tuesday in support of a Baltimore-area Christian school banned from the Maryland’s school voucher program based on its religious views:

“The government may not discriminate against religious schools simply because it dislikes their religious beliefs, and we welcome the DOJ’s support of that principle and our client in this case. Bethel Christian Academy offers an academically rigorous and caring Christian education in a diverse environment, but Maryland has refused to play by its own rules, expelled Bethel from a neutral government voucher program without just cause, and demanded the repayment of over $100,000—money that empowered the education of low-income students. As the DOJ’s statement of interest explains, ‘Supreme Court and lower court precedent make clear that penalizing Bethel for its beliefs goes beyond regulating conduct to regulating expression in violation of the Free Speech Clause, and coercing Bethel to renounce its religious character in violation of the Free Exercise Clause.’ Simply put, Maryland doesn’t have the right to deny children scholarships due to the beliefs and policies set forth in Bethel’s parent-student handbook.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent the school in the case, Bethel Ministries v. Salmon. John R. Garza, one of more than 3,400 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the case for the school.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Additional resources: Bethel Ministries v. Salmon

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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Previous news releases:

  • 2019-11-14: Court: MD Christian school’s religious discrimination lawsuit may continue
  • 2019-10-31: MD Christian school to court: Stop govt from demanding $100K from us for our beliefs
  • 2019-06-25: Maryland officials deny low-income kids school vouchers if they choose Christian school


  • Claire Dant: Md. school sues state for constitutional violations based on religious beliefs (Baltimore Sun, 2019-07-01)

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