Atheists are getting a workout challenging a California school board over prayer and the church some of its members are a part of, and one attorney hopes the battle will help settle a constitutional issue.
The Chino Valley Unified School District, which holds prayer during its school board meetings, is standing up to hostility from an outside group. Attorney Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute tells OneNewsNow the Freedom From Religion Foundation is taking the district to court.
"Some of the board members are very committed to their faith," he reports. "But most importantly is they recognize that in a free society we can't have freedom from religion but freedom of religion, and that's what this lawsuit's all about."
Three of the five school board members are also members of the megachurch, Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. Atheists are upset with Pastor Jack Hibbs, who has been known to walk up to the political candidates within the church, bless them and tell the congregation he is going to vote for them.
"In the past, the IRS, which has sort of become the bully of many religious institutions, has even backed down on their earlier stance that would have contended that that was illegal for non-profit organizations," Dacus notes.
That, he says, is because of the Johnson Amendment, which bars pastors from endorsing candidates. But now, hundreds of pastors nationwide have openly endorsed candidates and political issues to generate a court challenge to declare the Johnson Amendment unconstitutional.