Tennessee Church Fights State Day Care Regulation

A Baptist church near Nashville is fighting a state judge’s orders\n to stop operating an unlicensed day care program.

On Sept. 7, Chancery Court Judge Claudia Bonnyman found Pastor Harold Frelix\n Sr. and his Priest Lake Community Baptist Church in contempt of court for refusing\n to abide an earlier court order to stop operating child-care services without\n a license.

State law requires anyone caring for five or more unrelated children to be\n licensed by the state. Day care centers must meet basic health and safety regulations,\n and staff members must undergo criminal background checks and receive training\n related to childcare. Earlier this year, officials with the state Department\n of Human Services stated that on numerous occasions they had found that the\n church was caring for 13 children.

Church officials told The Tennessean that it merely runs a “Bible\n camp” and that the free exercise of religion should shield the church\n from compliance with the state’s regulations.

Bonnyman also said she would consider ordering the church to pay DHS attorney\n fees if it continued to defy the order.

As Church & State went to press, there were no reports on whether\n the church had stopped its day care services.