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Court Halts School Board Prayer…..NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT!

in Blog, Cases, Newsletters, Prayer 8 Comments

The Chino Valley Unified School District asked Advocates for Faith & Freedom to help them in defending its policy of allowing an opening invocation at their board meetings.

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutional right of a city council to open its public meetings with an invocation
—provided there was a nondiscriminatory process in selecting who offer the prayers.

The Supreme Court commented in Town of Greece v. Galloway that “legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of ‘God save the United States and this honorable Court’ at the opening of this Court’s sessions….”

In the 1983 Marsh v. Chambers decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Nebraska Legislature’s chaplaincy prayer practice did not violate the Establishment Clause. In doing so, the ruling noted that legislative prayers were deeply embedded in American history as early as the 1774 Continental Congress, when such prayers were presented through paid chaplains.

Chino Valley Unified School District decided to appeal a recent federal court ruling calling its own prayer policy unconstitutional, even though the board policy adopted in 2013 contained the same stipulations later upheld in the Town of Greece v. Galloway ruling.

In keeping with those long-held and federally recognized provisions, the school district retained Tyler & Bursch, LLP to represent it pro bono on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working in association with Tyler & Bursch, LLP to help underwrite the costs of the appeal.  This case is being defended  by Tyler & Bursch  in order to  minimize the potential bias that we have experienced in the past when advocates for Faith & Freedom is the law firm of record.

Crowd outside Chino Valley School District with captionCVUSD’s prayer policy is nondiscriminatory because it allows clergy from all faiths to present their prayers. To ensure the policy is nondiscriminatory, the district sends out a letter to all religious assemblies inviting them to voluntarily sign-up to participate in the invocation. The militant Freedom from Religion Foundation sued the school district in November 2014.

In February, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ruled against CVUSD saying that the Town of Greece decision allowing prayer before city council meetings did not apply to school districts because of the impressionability of schoolchildren who may attend the meetings.

“The School Board possesses an inherently authoritarian position with respect to the students. The board metes out discipline and awards at these meetings, and sets school policies that directly and immediately affect the students’ lives,” Bernal wrote.

After losing at the district court level, Chino Valley officials asked us to take over their legal representation before the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. Our appeal will narrowly focus on the question of whether a school board may begin its meetings with a ceremonial prayer.

We believe this case will have serious ramifications because it is the first one to advance to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and is ripe for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. It is also the first case to advance to the appeal level since the Town of Greece case reaffirmed the constitutionality of allowing ceremonial prayers before governmental meetings.

Because this case will require intensive staff time and legal costs throughout most of this year, we are asking that you please consider contributing to our defense fund. We seriously need additional financial support today to take on this battle. Whether you can afford to give $5, $25, or $1,000, it all matters and is greatly appreciated! We can’t afford to let a small minority of people and a radical organization redefine our way of life. To do so fosters tyranny of the worst kind. Thank you for your prayerful consideration to this cause. If you would like to donate to Advocates, click here.

Press Release 3-17-16

17 Opening Brief_4-26-17


8 Responses to "Court Halts School Board Prayer…..NOT WITHOUT A FIGHT!"

Paul Linder says:

The lower courts decision and the explanation of it are preposterous and should be over turned. Apparently they are not so concerned about the impressionable school children when it comes to the state demanding that children be indoctrinated into accepting various sexual practices Christians find sinful as normal. Apparently they are not concerned with the removal of Christian or Biblical studies in the name of the non establishment clause and yet these are being replaced by studies of Islam. Now that is a violation of the very clause they claim as a reason to remove one to promote the other.

Myles says:

Religion has no place in any decent society.
What good could possibly come from encouraging hate and intolerance?

    David Bustamante says:

    Myles, if you are referring to the Muslim faith, there is an abundance of recent evidence to support your statement. Take the recent German incident where a 23 year old young man was filled with such hate that he targeted a festive Christmas area and killed a number of people by driving a semi truck into the crowd. Now that’s hate.
    However, if you take time to consider the Christian faith and the fact that the God of the bible is described as love and He calls us to “love one another”, to esteem others more than ourselves. And you consider that motivated by these principles, Christians have established hospitals, schools, feeding centers, ministry to the homeless, missions throughout the world, including ministry to Muslims, then I pray that you would truly see that the Christian faith is one of love and was the basis for our early society. Without this kind of love, then yes, our society will continue to suffer from the hate and wickedness that comes when people do not know the God of the bible.

Cherie Wood says:

Myles, your comment kind of proved a point to me. I heard about atheist but I’ve never come across one. I hope I never do again. You are a sad person. I guess you could tell how well our kids are doing without prayer. Was that your idea your Good Deed? Shameful

David Bustamante says:

Myles: If you were to simply consider the very basic and simple 10 commandments, including the prohibition against murder, theft, lying, coveting your neighbors spouse and possessions, loving God and your neighbor as yourself, imagine how few courts (civil and criminal) would be needed, how much crime would decrease, how much more peace and order there would be. A decent society indeed. Or remove true religion and face the tyranny that we are beginning to see exist. Please take a genuine moment to consider this.

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