CO School Sued Over Church/State Violations

CO School Sued Over Church/State Violations May 28, 2015

A Jewish teacher in Florence, Colorado has filed a federal lawsuit against the school he teaches at for numerous Establishment Clause violations brought on by what looks like a partnership between the administration and a church that rents school facilities in order to proselytize students and teachers during school hours.

A Colorado teacher is suing his school district claiming the district’s only high school “operates largely to promote the evangelical Christian ideals” of a local church that operates in the school.

Robert Basevitz’s lawsuit against the Fremont Re-2 School District was filed Tuesday in federal court in Denver. School district officials said they have not been served and could not yet comment.

Randy Pfaff, the pastor of The Cowboy Church at Crossroads, said he will not apologize for being in Florence High School.

“I don’t believe the Constitution was meant to keep God out of the schools. That’s absolutely absurd,” Pfaff told The Denver Post on Tuesday in a phone interview. “This nation was founded on Christianity.”

Pfaff’s evangelical church, which rents cafeteria space at Florence High for Sunday morning services, hosts prayer every morning before school around the flagpole and hosts Bible study and pizza during lunch in a school classroom.

Here’s what the complaint says about some of what goes on there:

The Cowboy Church at Crossroads is lead by Pastor Randy Pfaff, and meets every Sunday in the cafeteria of the School. The Church is advertised by two large signs that are hung on school property and are clearly visible to motorists….

The cornerstone of Pastor Pfaff and the Church’s “mission work” at the School is daily morning prayer in front of the School, at the flagpole. Either Pastor Pfaff or another member of the Church has been present for this ceremony every day for the last three years. With the School’s support, Pastor Pfaff has led these services, ministering to the School’s students and staff while holding a bible and using a public address system to preach his evangelical Christian messages…. Numerous faculty members, in including Principal Schipper, participate in services…..

… Pastor Pfaff and the Church, with the support of the School’s administration, routinely minister to staff and students through the distribution of flyers promoting their evangelical Christian views…

Through the Fellowship’s front group, Pastor Pfaff and the Church also hold weekly lunches at the School. The students refer to this event as “Jesus Pizza.” This meeting is promoted to the School’s students and staff through the presence of a large sign in the hallway that reads “God loves you and has a plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11.” …. During these “Jesus Pizza” sessions, which are led by Pastor Pfaff, he preaches to and prays with Florence students….

The church has every right to rent school facilities to hold services on the weekend, on par with any other community group. But they absolutely cannot go into the school during the school day to preach to or pray with students or teachers. That is pretty clearly unconstitutional.


Browse Our Archives