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Indiana Civil Rights Commission Seeks Jurisdiction Over Small Informal Groups

Thomas More Society Defends Rights of Homeschool Group Against Government Invasion

Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, tc@tcpr.net

MEDIA ADVISORY, March 19, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today, the religious and associational liberty of a ten-family Catholic homeschool group, the Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society (FACES), will be at issue in the Indiana Court of Appeals. The case began when a disgruntled former member of the group, Elizabeth Bridgewater, filed a complaint with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC) because the member contended that the group should have provided her severely food allergic daughter, Alyssa, a steak dinner instead of having the family bring a special dinner from home for the child. The group eventually dismissed the Bridgewaters after a series of disruptive actions by members of the family, after which Elizabeth Bridgewater alleged retaliation before the ICRC. The ICRC ordered the ten families of FACES to associate with and readmit the Bridgewaters, to post the ICRC decision on the FACES website, and to pay the Bridgewaters $2500. FACES ceased operations as a result of the litigation. The result of the case is expected to have implications for homeschooling groups -- and numerous other small informal groups -- statewide.

Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society, is available to speak about this case following the hearing.

WHAT: Oral arguments will be heard before a three judge panel in an appeal against the ICRC ruling against FACES, a small Catholic homeschool group.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 19, at 10:30 a.m. (Indianapolis time)

WHERE: Indiana Court of Appeals Courtroom, Statehouse, Room 413, Indianapolis, IN 46204

WHO: Patrick Gillen, Thomas More Society special counsel, and Peter Breen, Thomas More Society executive director & legal counsel, representing FACES, in an appeal against the ICRC and Elizabeth Bridgewater

"The government has no power to force small informal religious groups to associate with members who disrupt their activities. These ten families have been dragged through years of litigation merely because they wanted to provide a few extra activities to supplement their own family homeschooling. If the Indiana government asserts that it has power over this small private group, then nothing stops the government from having power to tell a whole host of groups who will and will not be members of those groups, from small bible studies to pickup basketball games to children's play groups," explained Peter Breen, executive director and legal counsel at the Thomas More Society. "This case is a prime example of government overreach that must be stopped. The government of the State of Indiana should be ashamed of itself for shutting down this worthwhile small group."

MORE INFORMATION: Detailed information on the case, including case documents, previous press releases, and news coverage, is available here: www.thomasmoresociety.org/cases/f-a-c-e-s-homeschool-group-v-icrc

About the Thomas More Society
Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm that exists to restore respect in law for life, marriage, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro-bono professional legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
www.thomasmoresociety.org