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EXCLUSIVE: Maine School Board Asks Church What It Believes About Marriage, Abortion, Gender Before Denying Lease


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The Daily Signal

Tyler O'Neil

May 25, 2023

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A Maine church that outgrew its meeting space applied with the local school board to lease space at a high school for worship services, but the school board appeared to apply a religious test to the church, and negotiations fell through. Now, the church is suing.

“Public institutions that seek to lease their facilities for revenue should not be able to discriminate based on religious or political conviction,” Mariah Gondeiro, vice president and legal counsel of Advocates for Faith & Freedom, the law firm representing the church, said in a press release exclusively provided first to The Daily Signal.

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According to the complaint, organizations seeking short-term leases must work with the principal of the school and complete a facilities request form—a form that does not include any questions about the organization’s beliefs. Many organizations currently rent Hermon High School space, including Black Bear Basketball, Hermon Recreation, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, and various baseball groups. The church had even offered to pay $1,000 per month, $400 over the original price, as a sign that it would invest in the community.

Yet, when the church filed the request form, Superintendent Micah Grant and a member of the Hermon school board asked pointed questions about the church’s positions on “issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Chris McLaughlin, a school board member who includes personal pronouns in his signature, wrote that he “wanted to get a better sense of how The Pines Church approaches issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion and around their messaging around some key issues relevant to marginalized communities.”

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