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(LifeSiteNews) — A Christian church and preschool are suing the Biden administration and California state officials for suspending them from a food program serving impoverished students because of the church’s religious beliefs on human sexuality.

The Church of Compassion and its subsidiary Dayspring Christian Learning Center, located in El Cajon, California, maintain traditional beliefs regarding sexuality and gender, such as that there are only two “genders” (sexes). The lawsuit points out that these beliefs “were uncontroversial for more than 2,000 years and continue to be held by most major world religions.”

However, their beliefs are at odds with the Biden administration’s altered interpretation of the definition of “sex” in Title IX “to include sexual orientation and gender identity.” Following this new definition, California’s Department of Social Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued mandates that led to the suspension of the church and preschool from participation in the Child and Adult Food Care Program on December 29, 2022.

As examples of practices considered a violation of Title IX, the church and Dayspring “only hire those who share and live out their religious beliefs, including their beliefs about human sexuality,” the lawsuit notes. Specifically, they were considered in violation of state law for “requir[ing] all employees to read and abide by a staff handbook that specifically disallows ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lifestyles,’” according to the lawsuit.

Dayspring also “maintains sex-separated bathrooms and dress codes for boys and girls based on their biological differences and cannot agree to use any child or employee’s ‘preferred’ pronouns that do not correspond to biological sex.”

“The government is withholding food from families in need simply because their children attend a Christian preschool. This violates the U.S. Constitution and multiple federal laws that protect Church of Compassion and its preschool to operate according to the dictates of their faith,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel Jeremiah Galus. 

“Ironically, in the name of combatting discrimination, government officials have excluded the church and preschool from serving the El Cajon community based solely on their religious beliefs and exercise. This is antithetical to the First Amendment’s promise of religious freedom and only hurts needy families and children,” he added.

The lawsuit says that the government mandates violate the Free Exercise, Free Speech, Freedom of Association, and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment, as well as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and Administrative Procedure Act, the ADF shared.

The Church of Compassion and Dayspring have benefitted for almost 20 years from the food program, which provides about $3,500 to $4,500 a month to help feed poor students year-round. About 40 percent of the students attending the preschool qualify for free meals under the program, according to the legal complaint.

ADF successfully argued a similar case last year, Grant Park Christian Academy v. Fried, prompted by the Biden administration’s threat to withdraw lunch program funding from a Florida Christian school for its religious beliefs.