A Catholic school’s ability to operate in accord with its faith is in jeopardy. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit heard oral arguments June 11 in St. Joseph Parish v. Nessel. The case involves St. Joseph Catholic School in Saint Johns, Michigan, which is asking the court to protect its ability to hire staff who share the same faith.

In July 2022, the Michigan Supreme Court reinterpreted a state civil rights statute’s definition of sex to include sexual orientation, without any exemption for religious organizations. In March 2023, the Michigan Legislature wrote the change into state law, expressly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The school’s right to hire staff who hold Catholic religious views on marriage and gender is at risk. St. Joseph’s asks all staff to be practicing Catholics who uphold the faith. 

St. Joseph’s also risks being sued for discrimination because of its beliefs about gender and marriage, because the law makes it illegal to decline to use staff members’ or students’ preferred personal pronouns or to have separate girls’ and boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms.

Will Haun, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argued the case before the 6th Circuit.

“At stake for St. Joseph’s is whether or not St. Joseph can continue to operate as a Catholic parish, a Catholic school, a Catholic institution in Michigan, without having to surrender its way of life or ask permission from the government first before it exercises its religion,” Haun told The Daily Signal.

Haun joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss what the case means for Christian institutions nationwide.

Listen to the podcast below.