The headline could read, "Local officials wage LGBT culture war, illegally discriminate against minority community," but you won't find this story covered by Slate or Buzzfeed. That's because the facts of this story turn the Leftist media's preferred narrative on its head. The school board of Somerville, Massachusetts delayed, and has moved to deny, an application by a large, Hispanic, immigrant church to found a religious school for grades K-8. "Here you have a church just trying to offer a ministry to its own people [and] to the surrounding community," said Massachusetts Family Institute President Andrew Beckwith on "Washington Watch."
Vida Real (Real Life International Church) originally applied in 2021 to found a school known as "Real Life Learning Center" (RLLC). The school's proposed curriculum is already used by four other private schools in Massachusetts. After "dragging their feet" for months, said Beckwith, the school board subcommittee reviewing the application "gave the church a list of 35 questions they wanted answered.... Many of the questions were inappropriate, given what the legal responsibility of the school committee was."
According to Vida Real's complaint last Wednesday, "The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has cautioned that the approval of private schools 'must not be conditioned on requirements that are not essential to the State interest in ensuring that all the children shall be educated.'" The Court limited school committees to considering "(1) the proposed curriculum, (2) the number of hours of instruction, (3) the competency of the teachers, (4) the materials to be used to aid in the instruction of students, and (5) testing requirements for students."
"Frankly, [RLLC] will probably be even better academically than the Somerville Public Schools," said Beckwith. Test scores in Somerville schools "are below the state average in every category for every grade." Perhaps they should spend less time on woke indoctrination.
School board members made clear their opposition was based on anti-Christian animosity, not some misunderstanding of the law. Committee member Sara Dion said denying the application was the "morally right thing to do," and that she couldn't look at herself in the mirror if the school was approved. Even if the law did permit the school, Dion vowed to fight it. "We have a budget line for attorneys. That's what they're there for," Dion said, adding that "costly litigation to prevent or delay RLLC's opening was 'well worth it.'"
Any "initial ignorance," Beckwith continued, "was cleared up by district council, who presented at both of the two most recent school committee meetings." The district council did his best "to advise his clients... that they need to follow the law," said Beckwith. "There's a constitutional right... to have private religious education under both Massachusetts law and federal law." "At the most recent Committee meeting," said the complaint, "members criticized Vida Real's religious beliefs on human sexuality, creationism, and mental health. Members even went as far as to challenge RLLC's inclusion of Christian authors in its curriculum solely because of those author's status as Christians."
It shouldn't surprise us when Christians are targeted for striving to live as distinct from, and therefore a witness to, the world. Peter warned first century believers, "They are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:4-5). Still, it is always sad to see government officials throw themselves headlong into irrational hatred, the devil's work. We should pray for them and thank God that our country still constitutionally protects the free exercise of religion.