A California Christian school is being told to change its beliefs or shut down.
Located in rural northern California, River View Christian Academy (RVCA) operates under the ministry of Teen Rescue and was raided by the state in January.
Attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute, the organization representing RVCA, says the raid was prompted by an Internet rumor put forward by an on-line left-wing tabloid.
"They thought they'd find illegal weapons and drugs,” he says, “and treating it like it was some kind of a Waco cult gathering."
Instead of apologizing, Dacus says the state doubled down and began imposing daily fines against the school for allegedly operating as an unlicensed community care facility.
RVCA has actually operated as a private school, filing an annual affidavit with the California Department of Education. When school officials said as much, the state said that's no longer an option, adding the state must agree to extensive licensing and oversight by the Department of Social Services.
If that happens, Dacus says the school will be required to relinquish its moral standards.
"In more than 25 years of litigating and defending religious freedom,” he tells OneNewsNow, “we at Pacific Justice Institute have never seen this kind of a blatant and anti-Christian ideological driven effort by government to oppress religious freedom and specifically religious institutions like private Christian schools.”
Pacific Justice Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the school in mid-March and sought a restraining order to prevent imposition of the fines. In April, the federal judge abstained and dismissed part of the case, believing it should first go through the State's administrative process. With daily fines mounting, and as PJI then began pursuing an administrative appeal, the State abandoned its own process and filed suit against the school in Shasta County Superior Court.
PJI is now defending against that suit.
"If they don't prevail,” Dacus predicts, “we're going to see the hatchet drop on Christian boarding schools and Christian schools throughout the state of California, and then on to other states, that are controlled by politicians with similar ideologies and goals."