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Tony Perkins / Jun. 16, 2021

Christian School or State Puppet?

College of the Ozarks asked the 8th Circuit Court to grant them an injunction against HUD.

With all the woke ideology permeating higher education, a college faithful to God’s Word might seem like a contradiction in terms. But one of the unicorns is College of the Ozarks in Missouri, whose biblical worldview has led them into direct conflict with the Biden administration. The Christian university has asked the 8th Circuit Court to grant them an injunction against the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which ordered the college to violate its sex-specific dormitory policy and house students based on their self-proclaimed gender identity. A district court judge denied the injunction and dismissed the case.

On his first day in office, “President Biden ordered the government to enforce the [Fair Housing Act] as if it covers gender identity and sexual orientation,” according to the motion filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the college. The 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory housing practices or speech based on race, religion, and national origin and was amended in 1972 to also cover sex-based discrimination. In 1972, the LGBT ideology now shoved in our face daily would have been shocking to even suggest. “For decades, courts unanimously held that the FHA does not address sexual orientation or gender identity,” yet President Biden unilaterally decided to change the law.

In a February 11 “directive,” HUD announced penalties, including possible jail time and up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, for all institutions receiving federal funds which maintained separate bathrooms, showers, and housing based on sex or gender identity. For reasons the Biden administration has yet to justify, this “directive” bypassed the normal rulemaking process that requires agencies to solicit and answer public comments before implementing policies with the force of law. When the College of the Ozarks applied for a religious exemption, it was denied.

Biden’s executive orders effectively constructed a giant apparatus to pump transgender ideology through the tentacles of the entire federal government — leaving few places in the nation untouched. As agencies like HUD fall into line with Biden’s order, the floodwaters are rising for religious institutions like the College of the Ozarks, which is now in court to see whether their constitutional promise of religious freedom is still valid.

A major, unanswered question amid all of this executive policymaking — lawlessness without accountability — is, why is President Biden in such a hurry to punish Christian schools like College of the Ozarks? The Biden administration has at least paid lip service to religious freedom, but when it comes to actually respecting unpopular religious convictions, that’s a bridge too far. President Biden should save his breath; the free exercise of religion is merely so many meaningless syllables unless it protects people’s consciences from governmental intrusion. But for the Biden administration, it’s more important to invent so-called LGBT “rights” out of thin air.

Perhaps the Left simply has a special hatred for College of the Ozarks. The college earned their ill-will in 2017 by teaching students about “the military, politics, and flag procedures.” And, as their hapless malice towards Amy Coney Barrett revealed, the Left hates it when conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, enjoy outstanding success towards some of the Left’s own ideals. Prompted by their biblical worldview, which values work over debt, the College of the Ozarks has practically eliminated the need for student loans. College President Jerry Davis explained, “At our college, no student pays tuition; rather, each student works on campus.” It’s enough to turn the woke mob green with envy. Perhaps other Christian universities will imitate this college’s model and refuse to become puppets for the Biden administration’s anti-Christian agenda.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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