The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has granted an injunction pending appeal to allow a Christian school to resume in-person activities on campus.
Monclova Christian Academy, which is a ministry of Monclova Road Baptist Church, is a private Christian school in Monclova, Ohio.
Effective December 4, the Toledo County Health Department issued a resolution closing every school in the county—public, private, and parochial—for grades 7-12. However, in the same county, gyms, tanning salons, office buildings, and a large casino remained open. Monclova Christian Academy filed suit, arguing that the closure of their schools amounts to a prohibition of religious exercise in violation of the First Amendment.
The Sixth Circuit rejected the health department’s discriminatory ban in light of the Supreme Court’s decision granting an injunction for churches and synagogues in New York in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo and Agudath Israel v. Cuomo. In that case, the High Court held unequivocally that COVID-19 restrictions “cannot be viewed as neutral because they single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.”
The court also noted that the schools employed “strict social distancing and hygiene standards” and that “little in-school transmission has been documented” and the resolution treats the schools less favorably than it does “comparable secular facilities.”
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Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “Providing religious education is a core part of the religious freedom protected by the First Amendment, and the Toledo County Health Department’s Resolution plainly burdens such freedom. This is another win for religious freedom as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of synagogues and churches.”