Kendra Espinoza is a single mother dedicated to her children’s education.
She works three jobs in order to keep her daughters enrolled in a solid Christian school.
But recent developments in state and federal funding have threatened the Espinoza girls’ education.
Now the Supreme Court will decide whether these girls stay at their Christian school — or are forced back into a government school.
The case in question, Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, has aroused heated arguments about public funding for private schools.
The idea of “separation of church and state” has often been interpreted to prohibit any federal or state funding from going to private religious-based schools.
But the use of educational vouchers and scholarship funds has always taken the decision away from government and put it back in the hands of citizens.
Espinoza, a hardworking single mother, uses educational vouchers to keep her daughters enrolled in a private Christian school of their choice: Stillwater Christian School, located in Kalispell, Montana.
Stillwater Christian School is a thriving educational institution. The school embraces Biblical beliefs about sin, salvation, marriage, and gender — a rare instance in today’s world.
Enrollment at Stillwater Christian School is rising, and the school plans to build four new classrooms in the next several months. School officials delight in the opportunity to teach more children about Jesus and His Word.
“The religious instruction isn’t just in little pockets of Bible class,” commented Jeremy Marsh, the school’s headmaster. “It really comes out as we are learning in all classes.”
But sending children to Stillwater Christian School is not a small investment, and many parents in Kalispell take advantage of federal educational vouchers and donor-funded scholarships to help with tuition costs.
But even this has become more difficult in recent years.
In 2018, the Montana Supreme Court struck down a program that encouraged and enabled the use of donor-funded scholarships and education vouchers at private, religiously based schools.
In response, Espinoza and two other parents whose children attend Stillwater Christian School sued the state of Montana. They argued that the Montana Supreme Court ruling “violates the religious liberty of families and is flatly unconstitutional.”
By denying parents the right to use funding for private school tuition, Espinoza and the others argued, Montana was discriminating against those who prefer to send their children to Christian schools rather than public schools.
Montana’s ruling was a “push to have every student in public education,” Espinoza asserted. “If the program was…struck down simply so that people of religious faith could not access it, then that’s discrimination.”
Conservative parents should have access to the same choices as families who send their children to secular public educational institutions, Espinoza and her companions argued.
Because they need these vouchers and scholarships to keep their children enrolled in a sound Christian educational program, the parents decided to appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States.
In a brief to the Supreme Court, Espinoza and the others wrote that a decision in their favor “would remove a major barrier to educational opportunity for children nationwide.”
“If we win this case,” said Erica Smith, Espinoza’s lawyer, “it will be the U.S. Supreme Court once again saying that school choice is fully constitutional and it’s a good thing and it’s something parents should have.”
“And that will provide momentum to the entire country,” Smith concluded.
A decision in favor of the Christian parents could set a positive precedent and undo some of the damage caused by recent anti-religious sentiments in schools across the nation!
Naturally, many organizations are opposed to Espinoza’s claims and hope that the Supreme Court will turn down her request.
“[A decision in favor of Espinoza] would turn [the separation of church and state] on its head,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It will basically change over 200 years of practice in the United States.”
Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union agreed, calling the case “the latest in a disturbing line of cases attacking the very foundations of the separation of church and state.”
Homosexual groups claim that diverting funding to private religious schools could increase discrimination against students, families, and employees who don’t follow Biblical commands concerning gender and sexuality.
Most of all, however, it’s clear that Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue involves another attempt to restrict religious freedom throughout the country.
As this case comes up before the Supreme Court, pray for Espinoza and her fellow plaintiffs! Pray that God will encourage them in the fight and protect them from the attacks of the opposition.
Pray also that God will give the justices wisdom and clarity regarding religious freedom and the right to seek Biblically based education.