A Johnson County court will decide in a week and a half whether to order a church to close its daycare center. The Tabernacle Baptist Church has been told to quit operating a daycare for school-age and pre-school kids. The church claims it is running a religious school and shouldn’t bow to state rules. Pastor Royce Phillips says he founded the church and its school years ago. He says someone anonymously complained and a Department of Human Services caseworker showed up to investigate, which is where the case began. After claiming the operation was not a childcare center, the church applied for a childcare license, but was turned down after state inspectors found a long list of health and safety violations, from fire codes to the handling of medication given to kids. Phillips says the state wants to tell Cornerstone Christian School and his church how to operate and how to teach children. He says health and safety rules are “not an issue” and the church has tried to comply, but the state wants to tell the church how to teach and run its ministry. Deputy Johnson County Attorney Ann Lahey reads from the request for a permanent injunction. She says”The licensing evaluation in May found 22 violations, most affecting health and safety and items that put the children at risk, and the church, which didn’t appeal the denial of a daycare license, is also not in compliance with fire codes.” Lahey says they’re not being singled out, but state law is applied across the board to all daycares. State inspectors say they returned for six inspections in all, but problems were never corrected. A hearing on the county’s request for a permanent injunction is scheduled for September 9th.
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