In Somerville, Mass., this week, Vida Real Church’s pastors and leaders were honored. The opening of a Christian school in the city was approved Monday night by the city’s school committee by an 8-1 vote. Vida Real and the school district had been fighting for months over the church’s religious beliefs, and the committee’s decision was the end of the fight.
“For us, this is a time to rejoice!” After the vote on Monday, Vida Real’s pastor, Christian Cole, released a statement. “After months of battling with the school committee, we will finally have a private Christian school in Somerville where parents can send their children to learn in an environment that reflects their values.”
The largely Hispanic church has been locked in a battle with the school committee (the Massachusetts term for a school board) since filing its application for approval in September 2021. In February, a subcommittee recommended that the full board deny approval and raised objections to the church’s teaching of the Biblical account of creation, its views on homosexuality, and its belief that mental illness may be caused by demonic activity. In Massachusetts, a private school can only open if it is approved by a local school committee.
But the church continued to press its case, bringing on board both the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) and First Liberty Institute for legal support. MFI President Andrew Beckwith said that the church’s persistence helped them win. “As some of the school committee members’ outrageous comments show, families and churches in Massachusetts need to be constantly on guard to protect their right to raise their children according to their faith,” he said.
School committee members acknowledged the proposed school’s First Amendment right to teach a Biblical worldview but appeared unhappy about it. Ilana Krepchin, vice chairwoman of the school committee, said, “I think it’s hard to have to vote for a school that has so many values that I don’t agree with, but I see the law is what it is in this case and I don’t see we have much of an option.” “I just have to say this whole process seems a bit nutty.” Fellow committee member Laura Pitone added that it was “incredibly emotionally painful for some people in the community to have this type of school in our community.”
“No” voter Sara Dion has used her official TikTok account to promote progressive causes such as support for abortion and the use of transgender pronouns for young children. Sara Dion is on the school committee. At the March meeting of the committee, MFI’s Beckwith says Dion stated that she believed it was her duty to vote against the school, despite the law on the matter.
A certificate of occupancy and other approvals must be obtained before the school can open in the fall, according to Beckwith. None of those things can be taken for granted, at least not in the near future. According to his fellow charter school administrators, getting the go-ahead from the school committee is just one of many steps that can be slowed down by an administrative bureaucracy that isn’t always supportive of nonpublic schools.
Vida Real Church, on the other hand, is in a joyful mood this week. According to Cole, “We’ve heard from so many parents concerned about the perverted sexual ideologies their children are being force-fed in the public schools and who are desperate for a healthy educational alternative.” Pastors and parents alike can rest easy knowing that their children will soon attend the Real Life Learning Center.