California Gets a Pray Check
If the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) thought they’d found a soft target in Chino Valley Unified Schools, they were greatly mistaken. Apparently, liberals haven’t learned their lesson about tangling with California’s Calvary Chapel church network, where a firestorm over praying at school board meetings is resulting in a bigger fight than atheists bargained for. Pastor Jack Hibbs, one of FRC’s Watchmen pastors, hasn’t backed down on religious liberty before — and he doesn’t plan to start now. The head of a culturally-engaged congregation that’s also battling the state’s ObamaCare abortion mandate is now pushing back on another front: school board invocations.
After FFRF filed suit about the school board’s opening prayers, a federal judge ordered the members to end the tradition. Pastor Hibbs and the school board refused to capitulate and he led the board in prayer just last week. Bolstered by overwhelming public support, the Chino Valley Unified board (which includes members of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills Church and Calvary Chapel Chino Valley) met Monday to decide whether or not to fight the ruling that also bars them from reading the Bible during meetings. More than 300 people from the community poured into the board room last night, overflowing the overflow room and lobby, until parents packed the sidewalks outside, most holding signs that said simply: PRAY.
After a brief discussion, the board voted 3-2 to appeal the ruling and hire an outside firm to defend their First Amendment rights. (Rights, incidentally, that the Supreme Court upheld in 2014 by 5-4 in Town of Greece v. Galloway.) “I think the Lord is on our side,” said Jay Reed. “We have to fight. We’ve got to stand up as being Christians. We’ve got to live our biblical values.” Let’s hope more will try — thanks to the example of Chino Valley and Pastor Jack!
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