Chino Valley Unified School District Target Of Suit Over Prayer At Board Meetings

CHINO (CBSLA.com) — A local school district is the target of a lawsuit by the group Freedom from Religion, which claims that prayer during board meetings violates the First Amendment.

KCAL9’s Andrea Fujii reports that prayer commenced Thursday night’s meeting of the Chino Valley Unified School District.

The suit filed on behalf of some parents, students and employees claims they, “feel alienated from board meetings because of these prayers, Bible readings, and proselytizing, and therefore feel excluded from the political process that controls their education, their children’s education, and their jobs.”

School board President James Na wouldn’t comment, but the suit alleges that during a meeting, he once said, “Our lives begin in the hospital and end in the church and urge everyone who does not know Jesus Christ to go and find him.”

Many at the meeting supported the board’s alleged behavior, including the outgoing Chino police chief.

“All of the qualities you see in me came from my faith. They came from my belief in God,” Chief Miles Pruitt said.

Freedom from Religion argues the proselytizing is offensive but during public comment, most in the audience disagreed.

“Prayer works. God hears prayer,” one meeting attendee said.

Another stated: “I’ve never met anyone who was offended when I asked if I could pray for them so please keep up this good example.”

By phone, a representative from Freedom from Religion, tells Fujii that since the filing of the suit, several parents contacted them claiming that talk of Christianity goes beyond the board meetings. The group says it may amend and broaden its complaint.

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