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A California group home's decision to suspend a veteran counselor for "exposing" four teens to Christian music is being called a "ridiculous [act of] state hostility to religion."
Maureen Loya is suing the Orangewood Children's Home for religious descrimination after she was suspended for more than a month without pay for "exposing children to unapproved religious activities," attorneys for her case say.
The controversy began when Loya, who is a Christian, took four teen girls from the home on an approved field trip to the beach in June 2006.
While on the Huntington Beach pier, they came across the Surfrider Foundation Celebrity Surf Jam, a secular event that included a concert from Incubus and Switchfoot, two alternative style bands rooted in Christian music. The pier is a popular local spot that often hosts such public events. Loya was not aware of the concert beforehand, her attorney says.
For about 10 minutes the teen girls overheard the music as they ate, Loya said. The girls also visited booths at the event, some of which sold Christian items. The teens never complained or asked to leave, the lawsuit revealed.
Seven months later, that field trip cost Loya a six-week suspension without pay. It's unclear how the teen's exposure to the Christian music was made known to group home authorities, but the lawsuit claims no complaint had been filed.
Dacus called the penalty "hypocritical," claiming the group home showed no concern for the other bands at the concert singing "very controversial secular lyrics."
Terry Lynn Fisher, a spokeswoman for Orangewood, told CBN News that proselytizing was "not permitted" at Orangewood. But Bible studies and other religious services are offered at the group home.
Participation in the religious services is "strictly voluntary" she said
Loya is seeking the wages she lost during the suspension.