Maine is not getting the message that religious discrimination is illegal.

Crosspoint Church operates Bangor Christian Schools. The school is suing the state of Maine, alleging that legislators are trying to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court decision Carson v. Makin and prevent religious schools from receiving public funding. Courtesy First Liberty Institute

Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Maine law that had excluded religious schools from the state’s school choice program. The outcome in Carson v. Makin made clear that such religious discrimination must end.

But Maine continues to perpetuate religious discrimination in its school choice program, now by rejecting religious schools for beliefs that the state doesn’t like.

Government punishing religious schools for living out their religious beliefs is not only unconstitutional but also wrong.

Maine’s tuitioning program is the second-oldest school choice program in the nation. It allows parents who live in school districts that do not operate a high school to send their children to the public or private school of their choice. From 1980 until the Supreme Court decision in Carson in 2022, parents could not use their tuition benefit at a religious school.

Crosspoint Church operates Bangor Christian Schools, a K-12 Christian school in Bangor. Consistent with the school’s deeply and sincerely held religious beliefs, Bangor Christian Schools welcomes students and families who support the Bangor Christian Schools philosophy of Christian education. Families who freely choose to partner with Bangor Christian Schools are well aware of its religious mission, values and beliefs.


After the Supreme Court’s decision in Carson last year, Bangor Christian Schools should be eligible to participate as an option families may choose in the school choice program.

But the same day the Supreme Court decided Carson, Maine’s attorney general vowed to exclude Bangor Christian Schools and schools like it from the school choice program and expressed extreme hostility toward the school’s religious beliefs.

Furthering this hostility, the Maine Legislature then enacted a “poison pill,” ending an exemption that has the effect of prohibiting religious schools from teaching their religious perspectives and admitting only applicants who agree to support their statement of faith and religious educational mission.

The then-speaker of Maine’s House of Representatives said in a tweet the scheme was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s decision in Carson. This poison pill is designed to accomplish the same unconstitutional goals that the Supreme Court already struck down in Carson – excluding religious schools like Bangor Christian Schools from the school choice program.

In fact, the Supreme Court expressly rejected this government hostility toward religion last year in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, where Justice Neil Gorsuch noted: “A plaintiff may also prove a free exercise violation by showing that ‘official expressions of hostility’ to religion accompany laws or policies burdening religious exercise; in cases like that we have ‘set aside’ such policies without further inquiry.”

Simply put, government officials punishing religious schools for living out their religious beliefs is unconstitutional. Displaying such hostility through Twitter and targeted legislation makes the court’s decision easy.


The First Amendment protects the right of religious schools to operate by their statement of faith and prevents Maine from penalizing Bangor Christian Schools’ religious mission. As Justice Gorsuch also said: “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike.”

Bangor Christian Schools loves its students and families, and its religious beliefs inform all aspects of its curriculum and activities. It is in the school’s DNA. Requiring students and staff to share those beliefs is essential to maintaining the school’s religious identity. By law, the school should be free to teach from its religious perspective in the same way other schools are free to teach from their different educational perspectives. Families should be free to choose the educational option that works best for them without the state’s interference.

To quote from the opinion in Kennedy v. Bremerton, such “respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic.”

Maine cannot intentionally bypass a Supreme Court decision to effectuate religious discrimination. The poison pill is unconstitutional.

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