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School District Appeals Federal Injunction on School Board Prayer

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(Advocates for Faith & Freedom Press Release: March 17, 2016) Chino, CA. Late yesterday, Chino Valley Unified School District filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal from an Order of the United States District Court (Central District) that prohibits the school district and its school board members from continuing to allow a ceremonial prayer at the beginning of its school board meetings.

The school board decided to appeal that portion of the federal court’s order that enjoins the school board’s policy because, as the federal court ruled, the policy of allowing a prayers at the school board meetings “constitute unconstitutional government endorsements of religion in violation of Plaintiff’s First Amendment rights.”

“The District’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit will focus on the issue of whether a school district can continue with the long tradition of allowing a ceremonial prayer at the beginning of school board meetings,” said Robert Tyler, Managing Partner of Tyler & Bursch, LLP and attorney for Chino Valley Unified School District. He further stated, “The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that prayers in Congress date back to the first Continental Congress. The High Court has concluded that the well-established tradition of permitting prayer at [the] beginning of city council meetings, Congress and state legislative sessions does not violate the Establishment Clause. Likewise, the courts should follow the Supreme Court precedent and allow the same to occur at the beginning of school board meetings.”

The school district recently retained the law firm Tyler & Bursch, LLP to represent the school district on appeal to the Ninth Circuit. Tyler & Bursch’s services are being provided without charge to the school district. Advocates for Faith & Freedom is working in association with Tyler & Bursch, LLP to help underwrite the costs of the appeal.

Tyler & Bursch, LLP is a “for profit” law firm that dedicates a portion of its legal work to pro bono representation. Its website is www.tylerbursch.com.

Advocates for Faith & Freedom is a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of the U.S. Constitution in the courts. You can visit its website at www.faith-freedom.com.

Christian Group ‘Derecognized’ at State’s Colleges Because It Requires Leaders to Hold Christian Beliefs

 

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InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, was “derecognized” by all 23 California State University schools because IVCF wouldn’t stop requiring its leaders to hold Christian beliefs

In 2012, shortly before retiring, the chancellor of the California State University system issued a new policy that requires recognized student groups to accept all students as potential leaders. Our chapter leaders are required to affirm InterVarsity’s Doctrinal Basis. This new CSU policy does not allow us to require that our leaders be Christian.  It is essentially asking InterVarsity chapters to change the core of their identity, and to change the way they operate in order to be an officially recognized student group.

While we applaud inclusivity, we believe that faith-based communities like ours can only be led by people who clearly affirm historic Christian doctrine. The policy affects 23 chapters within the California State University system, such as Cal State Northridge. The policy exempts sororities and fraternities from gender discrimination; we believe there should be a similar provision for creedal communities. For more details see “Colleges and Evangelicals Collide on Bias Policy” and “The New College ‘Thought Police’”.

In August 2013, the new chancellor, Timothy White, graciously granted religious groups a one-year exemption for the 2013-14 school year. But the CSU chancellor’s office says that no further exemption can be made. Thus all 23 InterVarsity chapters on CSU campuses now operate without the benefits of official recognition.

InterVasity’s reaction:

 

Ed Stetzer, a writer for Christianity Today asks the question:

Stetzer also noted it appears this trend will continue.

“But, the question remains, how will Christians react? I hope they won’t call themselves persecuted, since that lessens the persecution in, for example, Iran. However, I also hope they will speak up graciously. And, that even people who are not religious will see the danger of stripping faith from the organized conversation at the university.”

Read his full article HERE

 

 

Atheists Demand Christians Stop Praying at Town Meetings

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Atheists in California are trying to remove prayer at the opening of public meetings in a California city.

Alliance Defending Freedom sent a legal memo to Chico, Calif., Thursday after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter demanding the city stop opening public meetings with a prayer.

The city’s policy allows various members of the community to offer the prayers. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys are currently defending a New York town’s similar prayer policy at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Americans today should be as free as the Founders were to pray,” says senior counsel David Cortman. “The Founders prayed while drafting our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, and the Supreme Court has ruled that public prayer is part of the ‘history and tradition of this country.’ The city of Chico, therefore, is on extremely firm ground to allow prayer before its public meetings.”

The letter explains, “Fortunately, Chico can not only look to the historical example of the U.S. Congress and clear Supreme Court precedent, but this past Spring the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has expressly reaffirmed the right of Cities to open their public meetings with a prayer.”

The letter additionally points out that the Ninth Circuit “went further to clarify the Cities need not censor the content of the prayers or prevent people from offering prayers that are distinctive to their own faith traditions.”

“A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn’t like,” adds senior counsel Brett Harvey. “Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God’s blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn’t suddenly be considered unconstitutional. It’s perfectly constitutional to allow community members to ask for God’s blessing according to their conscience.”

US: Preachers found ‘not guilty’ in Bible reading case

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A pastor who was arrested for reading the Bible to the public in California has been found not guilty by a judge.

Superior Court Judge, Timothy Freer ruled that the prosecution’s case against Pastor Brett Coronado and Mark Mackey failed to prove the law had been broken.

Pastor Coronado and Mr Mackey were outside a local Government car registration centre in February 2011, when a California Highway Patrol officer took Mr Mackey’s Bible away and arrested him.

Arrested

Later, Pastor Coronado was also arrested and a non-profit religious liberty law firm Advocates for Faith and Freedom took on their case.

The Police said the group was preaching to a captive audience and were trespassing because they needed a proper permit to protest or demonstrate.

The men faced penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $400 fine.

Legal

The defence argued that Pastor Coronado and Mr Mackey’s actions did not match the legal definition of protest or demonstration.

Defence attorney Robert Tyler said his clients were “very satisfied” with the ruling, and the case was really about protecting free speech.

He said: “In a judicial system where justice seems to be fleeting in many instances, we are very excited that we won this case and are pleased to have had a judge who seriously considered the evidence and applied the law in a fashion that was intellectually honest regardless of his personal views.”

Investigate

Mr Tyler will now proceed with the civil suit that he filed against California Highway Patrol, which had been on hold pending the outcome of the trial.

And prosecutors are understood to be investigating options for an appeal of the judge’s decision

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Trial Begins for Christians Arrested for Reading Bible Outside California DMV

MURRIETA, Calif. – The criminal trial for three men who were arrested for reading the Bible aloud outside of a California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office began on Monday.

The incident occurred in February 2011 when Pastor Brett Coronado, Mark Mackey and Edward Florez, Jr. went to the DMV in Hemet early one morning to evangelize those who were waiting for the facility to open. As they stood on the public sidewalk, Mackey began to read out loud from the Bible.

However, soon after, he was approached by a security officer at the DMV, who asked him to move elsewhere. The men then asserted that they had a First Amendment right to stand on the sidewalk, and Mackey continued to read from the Scriptures.

Approximately 10 minutes later, a California patrol officer arrived on the scene, grabbed Mackey’s Bible, and put him in handcuffs. He informed the men that they could not “preach to a captive audience.”

“This is what America is coming to,” Mackey began to call out, holding his hands behind his back.

“You can preach on your own property,” said the officer.

“What law was he breaking?” Coronado and Florez asked.

“Were you preaching too?” the officer responded.

As the men continued to inquire as to why Mackey’s activities were considered unlawful, another officer put them both in handcuffs, citing them for “impeding an open business.”

“Any person who intentionally interferes with any lawful business carried on by the employees of a public agency open to the public, by obstructing or intimidating those attempting to carry on business, or those persons there to transact business with the public agency . . . is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for up to 90 days, or by a fine of up to four hundred dollars ($400), or by both that imprisonment and fine,” the law states.

“He’s creating an intimidating situation for people who simply want to get their driver’s licenses renewed,” attorney Dan Conaway told reporters. “He does not have the right to intimidate others and force them to listen, and impede their ability to do normal daily business activities, such as go to the DMV.”

But Advocates for Faith and Freedom, the Christian legal organization that is representing the men, states that the DMV was closed at the time of arrest and that California law does not prohibit speaking to a “captive audience.” Attorney Robert Tyler contends that the Christians were simply engaging in the free exercise of religion.

“These men were exercising their First Amendment right of free speech,” he outlined. “They were simply sharing their faith on public property, and we will defend their constitutional right to do so.”

The organization soon filed a lawsuit against California Highway Patrol, and Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach responded by charging the men with trespassing for failing to obtain a permit to conduct a “demonstration or gathering in or upon any state buildings or grounds.”

“This prosecution amounts to nothing more than retaliation for our filing a federal lawsuit,” Tyler stated.

He asserts that the trespassing statute is inapplicable as the men were not demonstrating and were not holding a gathering.

The official trial for the Christians began on Monday and is expected to continue throughout the week.

Jesus said,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28)

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