Teacher’s Lawsuit Says Colorado High School is Illegally Promoting Evangelical Christianity

| by Alexander Rubinstein
Florence High School.Florence High School.

In December, Robert Basevitz, a Jewish teacher at Florence High School in Florence, Colorado, met with Principal Brian Schipper and Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti to complain about the overwhelming presence of Pastor Randy Pfaff’s from The Cowboy Church at Crossroads at the school.

Basevitz later filed a lawsuit against the school. “When he complained about these activities, which are clearly illegal, he was shown the door, and transferred to a different school,” said employment attorney Paul Maxon.

"On a single day last year, there were no fewer than five evangelical activities sponsored by the school," Maxon said, reports The Denver Post.

“The administration is essentially running a public school as a Christian school,” he told 7NEWS. “I think it is — when the principal is participating in assemblies that pass out Bibles to students, it sends a message to the faculty and to the students that there's an official religion at the school.”

After raising his concerns to Schipper and Vendetti, Basevitz was told he could enter and exit the school through the side doors when the church held prayer ceremonies by the front door, 7NEWS reports.

Included in the school’s alleged violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which separates church and state, are scriptures displayed on the projection screen, signs promoting Sunday church services and prayer circles around the flag pole.

School officials, including Schipper and Vendetti, are also accused of making announcements over the intercom system and distributing flyers throughout the school that promote prayer and other Christian events during school hours, including a pizza party hosted by Pfaff at lunchtime which students have nicknamed “Jesus Pizza.”

The lawsuit states, “In an apparent attempt to ostracize (Basevitz), Defendants informed staff and students of Mr. Basevitz’s complaint and his Jewish heritage.”

“On January 9, 2015, (Basevitz) overheard a student saying, ‘we can't do Jesus Pizza because Mr. B. is Jewish,’" the lawsuit said.

Later, Pfaff posted on the Facebook page of the Florence High student group that he founded, Fellowship of Christian Huskies, that “The enemy always fights the hardest when he knows God has something great in store,” the lawsuit says.

“It's a serious matter when the Bill of Rights is violated. Some cases have gray areas about what's illegal and not illegal. This case doesn't have much of that,” Maxon said.

Sources: The Denver Post, The Denver Channel

Photo Source: Florence High School