A legal dispute that broke out between Arizona Christian University (ACU) and the Washington Elementary School District has been settled after ACU accused the public school system of cutting ties over the institution’s “religious beliefs.”
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“For the past 11 years, Arizona Christian University and Washington Elementary School District had a mutually beneficial partnership where students in the university’s elementary educational program would student-teach and shadow teachers in the school district,” ADF has explained of the issues underpinning the debate.
The law firm continued, “The school district, however, decided it no longer wanted to partner with ACU because of the university’s religious beliefs on biblical marriage and sexuality, terminating the partnership without citing any complaint or issue regarding an ACU student or alumnus.”
ACU sued and the school district settled and reimplemented the student teaching agreement with ACU.
Ryan Tucker, an attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, sat down with CBN’s Faithwire to discuss the complex case and why he believes ACU’s recent victory could send a powerful message.
Tucker, who said the incident was an example of a “school board gone woke,” believes the public nature of board members’ statements was quite startling.
“When you’ve got a school board member saying, ‘I don’t feel safe around someone because they’re a Christian and I don’t think they should have their students — those Christians — at our particular elementary schools,’ I just think that’s shocking, and so it’s — it was disturbing to watch,” Tucker said. “And so we’re just so thankful that we were able to right the wrong that clearly happened here.”
Watch Tucker explain the victory and the message he believes it sends:
Tucker said ACU ended up with a better contract than the college previously had — a five-year agreement that strengthens the relationship between the institution and the district.
“It’s greatly beneficial, not just for this university but also those students in the district itself,” he said. “There was a real disconnect between … the rank and file of the district who, for years, had been hiring … these students and the board itself who had an agenda, clearly … a vendetta, if you will, against the university.”
Tucker said he’s hoping the conclusion of the case sends a message to school board members and other government officials when it comes to the First Amendment and religious liberty.
“You can’t take someone’s beliefs and openly ridicule them and subject them to pure religious discrimination,” he said. “Otherwise, you’re going to face a lawsuit like this.”
Tucker continued, “I think it does send a serious message that they do need to treat people with respect.”
The attorney also encouraged believers to stand up and defend their rights.