While describing the anti-LGBTQ discrimination as “undisputed,” Judge Marshall wrote that federal law nevertheless protects organization’s conduct motivated by sincerely held, faith-based beliefs within the context of a religious educational institution. “The Court is not permitted to scrutinize the interpretation [the seminary] gives to its religious beliefs,” the judge wrote in Wednesday’s order.
A federal court in California this week ruled in favor of a Christian seminary that expelled two seminarians who had entered into gay marriages in violation of the school’s opposition to same-sex unions.
Attorneys representing Fuller Theological Seminary said the ruling marks the first time a federal court has recognized a religious liberty exemption for faith-based educational institutions.
“It would create a huge establishment clause [issue] if you have government agents going in and telling a seminary how to do their job and practice their faith,” Daniel Blomberg, a senior attorney for the religious liberty law firm Becket who represented the seminary, told The Washington Times.
In a 19-page order dismissing the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall cited a religious exemption to federal education rules against sex-based discrimination.