The Christian school Trinity Academy in Kansas has just come under fire for an agreement that it is asking all students and their parents to sign before they can be admitted.
Called a “Statement of Understanding,” it is pretty similar to what other Christian school documents dictate with one pretty major exception.
Aside from asking that students believe the tenets of biblical faith, it puts a prohibition on all things LGBT.
The paragraph comes near the end, and it is quite a lengthy one. Here is an excerpt.
“Given the debate and confusion in our society about marriage and human sexuality it is vital that Trinity families agree with and support the school’s traditional, Christian understanding of those issues. Therefore, when the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home is counter to the school’s understanding of a biblical lifestyle, including the practice or promotion of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) lifestyle or alternative gender identity, the school should have the right, in its sole discretion, to deny the admission of an applicant or discontinue enrollment of a current student.”
While this paragraph doesn’t say it in as clear of terms as the headline of this article, as Patheos points out, it does create a situation where a student with a gay sibling could be removed or denied application.
And here’s the kicker for most opponents who would be sympathetic to a student in this scenario: it’s entirely legal for this Christian school to dictate its enrollment terms in such a way.
That’s because this particular Christian school follows a strict teaching of the Bible, which when taking into account passages like the Sodom and Gomorrah tale, the Leviticus death sentence, and a couple of passages in the New Testament (Romans 1: 26-28 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), takes a negative view of homosexuality.
While many look at this Statement of Understanding and see a potential for discrimination, it would be hard for the government to argue in court that it was not impeding freedom of religion if it punished Trinity Academy for holding such a view.
Wichita’s Trinity Academy Will Allegedly Deny Admission To Students With Gay Relatives. So everyone. https://t.co/CPetaF8wfK
— Blue DuPage (@BlueDuPage) May 22, 2016
Belief systems like that of Trinity have been around for thousands of years, and since the dawn of the United States — which was founded in large part on freedom of religion — there has been a precedent that stances like this one are not discrimination but rather the practicing of one’s beliefs.
Usurping the SOU would set a tricky precedent wherein any belief biblical in nature could be up for review. Therefore, it is unlikely that this Christian school will be forced to change the verbiage anytime soon.
The only thing that could change that is the court of public opinion and bad press. Coincidentally, at the time of this writing, the website for the school was down in “maintenance mode.”
Also coincidentally, this coincided with the time that the story went viral on reddit and hit the first page of the popular aggregation site.
Trinity has since provided this statement to the press.
“The foundation of Trinity Academy’s success is that we are dedicated to partnering with our families for the education of their students. Because of this dedication, our entire application process is designed to make sure new families know who we are and what we believe. Trinity Academy holds biblical views on human sexuality and gay marriage and we want prospective families to understand that. We feel that this is only fair given the disagreement and discord in our society over such issues. It is then up to the family as to whether they feel they can partner with Trinity and support these biblical Christian views.”
“Trinity would not and has not denied admission to a student simply because they have a sibling who is gay. Neither would we necessarily deny admission to a student with same sex attraction. We do not condone sexual activity of any kind for our students whether heterosexual or homosexual.”
“Again, Trinity’s whole intent is to make sure families know what we believe so we can partner together successfully for the good of the students.”
What do you think, readers?
Is the Statement of Understanding from this Christian school (and its statement to the press) violations of basic human rights, or would declaring it as such be a nail in the coffin of religious freedom?
Sound off in the comments section below.