Meetings of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education in California have reportedly included Bible verses, pleas to convert to Christianity and speeches about eternal life.
According to Reveal News, three of the five people members on the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education attend the Christian conservative Calvary Chapel Chino Hills megachurch.
During a school board meeting on Jan. 16, 2014, then-school board president James Na stated (video below): "It's strange that our lives begin in the hospital and end in the church. So, I believe the quicker, the faster we surrender ourselves to God, then we'll find a peace and still find the joy and the mission on this earth. So I would really urge everyone who does not know Jesus Christ, 'Go find him.'"
Andrew Cruz, vice president of the school board was caught on video (below) saying, “For the past week, I kid you not, I’ve been, I’ve been hearing, ‘I can only imagine seeing the glory of God and dancing with Jesus.' It's been on my mind for the past week, which is kind of amazing."
Later in the same video, Cruz quoted verses from 1 Corinthians about how "Christ died for our sins."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was notified about the prayers and Christian speeches from people in the community, and sent a letter to the school board a letter informing it that it was violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
That escalated into a lawsuit being filed by the FFRF in November 2014.
The Daily Bulletin reported in January that the school board voted 3-2 to find a lawyer who will work without pay to defend the school board in the lawsuit.
The school board claims that it has allowed an invocation to open its meetings, but has not violated the U.S. Constitution.
Margaret Chidester, who is representing the school district, claims it does not have enough information regarding the FFRF's claims, but would be starting a discovery process.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, president of FFRF, told the Daily Bulletin, “I think it’s an airtight case. Until the end of the year, we’ve had a new complaint every day. This is unprecedented. Obviously something is very wrong with this district’s understanding of separation of church and state and its role in promoting religion or not promoting it to a captive audience of small schoolchildren.”
The school board has strong support from folks in the community and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills members who have held signs at school board meetings that read: “We Support Prayer” and “We support keeping prayer in CVUSD board meetings.”