School board which proselytizes during meetings dares the FFRF to sue them. The FFRF has obliged.

School board which proselytizes during meetings dares the FFRF to sue them. The FFRF has obliged. November 17, 2014

oblige himAfter giving them multiple chances to stop breaking the law, the Chino Valley School District is being sued by the Freedom From Religion Foundation:

School board meetings open with a prayer, and often include bible readings and proselytizing by board members. Board President James Na injects Christianity into many of his official statements, FFRF’s legal complaint notes. At one typical meeting, Na “urged everyone who does not know Jesus Christ to go and find Him,” and closed with a reading of Psalm 143.

Students often attend the meetings to receive awards, speak about issues affecting their schools, attend disciplinary hearings and do performances. Student attendance is mandatory in some instances, and a student representative is a member of the board.

Courts have consistently held that organized prayer in the public schools is unconstitutional, the complaint charges. Two federal appellate courts, the Third and Sixth Circuits, have specifically held school board prayer unconstitutional.

Joining the Freedom From Religion Foundation as plaintiffs are a district student, Doe 1, and parents Does 2 and 3, as well as a district employee, Doe 4. Additional students, families, and employees in the district who are interested in joining as anonymous plaintiffs should contact FFRF.

Yup, the law is abundantly clear: you can’t endorse sectarian religious beliefs in your capacity as a school board member, and you sure as shit can’t use your post to proselytize.  It gets even more clear cut (if that were even possible) when you have a captive audience present.  There is literally no chance the school will win this lawsuit.

The sad thing is that it didn’t have to be like this.  All the FFRF wanted was for the school board to stop breaking the law.  The FFRF sent them a letter saying that if they stop breaking the law that the FFRF would go away (as has happened in the past).  The school, however, refused:

FFRF repeatedly attempted to resolve these constitutional violations without litigation. FFRF originally contacted the board on Sept. 14, 2013, asking it to stop scheduling prayers at its meetings. The board responded on Oct. 7, 2013, refusing the request.

What the school board undoubtedly thinks is bravery is actually rank stupidity that involves gambling money earmarked for education in favor of James Na’s religion, which has zero to do with education.

I’m sure the Alliance Defending Freedom has already offered to defend the school “for free” while conveniently omitting, as they always do, that when the school/ADF loses then the school, not the ADF, will get to pay the FFRF’s legal fees (which will likely run around the $150,000 range).  All because, thanks to religion, the president of the school board can’t let his job be just about education.

Are you a part of the Chino Valley School District and feel like providing the FFRF with even more plaintiffs?  Give them a yell.

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