The Child-Friendly Faith Project began as a defense against religious child maltreatment (RCM). A national nonprofit, CFFP shares awareness of RCM and advocates for children and parents impacted by RCM like those at the Episcopal School of Dallas.
Janet Heimlich founded CFFP in 2012. An award-winning reporter, she is the author of Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment, the first book to do a deep dive into child abuse and neglect enabled by religious beliefs. Heimlich co-hosts the podcast Parenting Beyond Belief and sits on the board of Foundation Beyond Belief.
In a case against the Episcopal School of Dallas involving disciplinary actions against its students, a Texas appellate court agreed with the defendants that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine protects schools with religious affiliations from nearly all civil lawsuits.
In its amicus brief for the Texas Supreme Court, the CFFP argues that such rulings offer fewer protections for students in faith-based schools than those for students in secular schools, and that is discriminatory. It would make it easy for a corrupt institution or school to dodge lawsuits (and even prosecution) by claiming they are affiliated with a religion.
While the Episcopal School of Dallas claims to be a faith-based school, it accepts students from all faiths and family backgrounds. Its curriculum is largely secular -- the same math, English, and social studies you'd find at any other Texas school. Its mission statement and aspirational themes contain no religious or spiritual messages.