The Orange County Board of Education's practice of opening its meetings with invocations must end. FFRF is asking local members to protest the practice at the next school board meeting on Oct. 5.
The tradition the California school board has set up allows for interested people to request to deliver the invocation, with formal guidelines instituted for the practice. In a press release, FFRF asserts that "it is beyond the scope of a public school board to schedule or conduct prayer as part of its meetings." Another school board in California has already witnessed the consequences of ignoring the Constitution. February of this year, FFRF won a victory in California in a similar case (FFRF et al v. Chino Valley School District Board of Education). A federal court declared the practice unconstitutional and the district is now on the hook for $200,000 because it refused to stop praying at meetings..
FFRF also objects to the posting of "In God We Trust" in the school board meeting chambers, as well as the board's passing of several religious resolutions. Past resolutions have honored the National Day of Prayer, an annual Christian event, and Easter.
This sort of government endorsement of religion excludes the 23 percent of Americans who are nonreligious. Board members may pray in private or to worship in their own time, in their own way if they so choose. They may not endorse religious practices in their capacities as school board representatives.
Despite FFRF's legal requests to the Orange County Board of Education to end invocations during meetings, we have learned that the practice will likely continue at the next board meeting on Oct. 5.
Please attend the school board meeting if possible, or contact the Orange County school board and tell them to end the invocations!
When: Wednesday, October 5, 2016, 10:00 a.m.
Where: 200 Kalmus Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92628
If you cannot attend the meeting, please phone or email to voice your concern to the Orange County Board of Education.
Feel free to utilize the talking points below:
Please end the practice of scheduling invocations during school board meetings. Promotion of religion during meetings is a violation of the principle enshrined in the First Amendment guaranteeing the separation of church and state. Intentional ignorance of the law by continuing the invocations is unconstitutional and poses a threat to free thought in California's public schools. It could also be costly—another California school board recently had its prayer practice struck down by a federal court and now must pay $200,000 of the other side's attorneys fees.
School board members are free to pray on their own time. While acting as a school board representative, you must honor decades of firm Supreme Court precedent barring divisive religious worship from public schools, instead of promoting religion by including prayer during meetings.
Read more about the FFRF's legal victory in California last February over the same violation:
- California School Board Vows to Appeal Judge's Order to Stop Praying
- Federal Judge Orders School Board to Stop Preaching and Praying at Public Meetings
- Read about the Orange County Board of Education's invocation guidelines here