Politics Stand between a Church and the Disadvantaged in Virginia
The Fredericksburg, VA city council has provided a clear reminder that you don't have to be a child to make life hard on a child.
When Fredericksburg's Calvary Christian Church decided to expand its day-care operations so as to include a day school for disabled and therefore disadvantaged children, the city council said "no." Never mind that the children who would be in the day school all have an Individual Education Plan which states they would academically succeed in a private day school environment.
Such evaluations notwithstanding, the Fredericksburg city council decided to keep these disabled kids out of the day school, thus barring them from the one place where it was officially acknowledged that they could succeed academically.
The city council's central concern with the proposed day school is a fear that the disabled students might pose a safety risk to the before- and after-school non-disabled day care students at the church's day care center that is already in operation. But this concern is baseless because no disabled students would be on campus at the same time as other students. In other words, there is no time overlap where the day school students and the after-school students would be at the church together. And there was absolutely no record that any of the disabled children served by the day school would pose a safety risk to other children. In fact, the children in the day school were previously part of the general public school population and spent their days next to non-disabled public school students.
Zoning issues are not a concern, either. Calvary Christian Church has the approval of planning officials because it has met all zoning requirements to run such a facility. So, quite simply, no legitimate reason exists to oppose the opening of this school. There's no reason to run up a taxpayer tab with needless litigation over a school that wants to help disabled children in need, that meets all safety and zoning requirements, and that is on firm footing under the law to do work that benefits everyone.
While on earth, Jesus Christ said, "And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward" (Matt. 10:42 NIV). All Calvary Christian Church wants to do is follow this teaching. The city council should put aside needless and unwarranted fears and allow the church to do just that.
Erik Stanley is senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund (www.telladf.org), a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.