The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is suing our client, Chino Valley Unified School District, over CVUSD’s prayer invocation policy, is expanding its intimidation campaign by setting its sights on another Southern California school board. The anti-religion FFRF has now sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Orange County Board of Education demanding it stop similar prayers before its meetings. It is also insisting that the governing body remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from the wall behind its official dais.
According to the Orange County Register, the letter was sent to the governing board late this summer, and several members of the public expressed their concerns about the practice during meetings earlier this fall. On Nov. 16, however, dozens of local residents urged the board to continue with its prayer policy. In the article, reporter Roxana Kopetman referred to our case and quoted Robert Tyler, founding partner for Tyler & Bursch, LLP and Advocates for Faith & Freedom.
“We’re fighting for the invocations,” the article quoted Robert as saying. “It’s something that’s been going on since the founding of our country.”
Our case is now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a lower court sided with FFRF. After losing at the trial court level, Chino Valley hired Tyler & Bursch to represent them during the appeal, which is expected to be heard late next year. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is helping to underwrite the costs with the Tyler & Bursch legal team.
We are confident that we will prevail with the appeal since the U.S. Supreme Court—in the 2014 case Town of Greece v. Galloway—sanctioned the practice of public prayer as long as municipalities use a nondiscriminatory process in selecting the volunteers who offer the prayers. The Orange County policy allows any faith group to pray and randomly selects who will offer the invocation.
In the meantime, we have offered our expertise in representing the Orange County Board of Education in any litigation it may face over its invocation policy. As always, Advocates for Faith & Freedom offers these services pro bono. We appreciate the financial support from friends like you who help make it possible for us to fight these court battles. Thank you!