A federal district court in Virginia held that state licensing of church-run childcare facilities to certify compliance with health, safety and welfare standards would not burden a church's free exercise of religion.
The court concluded that "the operation of a childcare facility, even by a church, is a secular activity not entitling it to free exercise protection." Even if such as activity were deemed to be religious, the state's licensing requirements would be justified on the basis of the state's compelling interest in protecting the health and safety of small children.
The court also rejected the contention that church-run childcare facilities should be exempted from the law's financial disclosure requirements, prohibition of corporal punishment, child abuse reporting requirement, and program content requirements. Forest Hills Early Learning Center, Inc. v. Lukhard, 661 F. Supp. 301 (E.D. Va. 1987).