Back in February, I posted an important update on what’s happening with the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education (in California). This is the district in which board meetings are indistinguishable from a church service, with members frequently leading explicitly Christian prayers and reading Bible verses.
Judge Jesus G. Bernal had finally ruled that these prayers were unconstitutional and ordered the School Board to put an immediate stop to them. What we didn’t know then was how much this would cost the District.
Now we have an answer to that question:
Bernal ordered board president Andrew Cruz and board members James Na, Sylvio Orzco and Irene Hernandez-Blair Thursday to pay a total of $202,971,70 to the Freedom From Religion Foundation for their attorney’s fees and other costs.
That’s the going cost, it seems, for using the school board as a springboard for your religious beliefs — and then refusing to stop even when you’re warned that what you’re doing is illegal.
To be clear, FFRF sued the board as representatives of the District — that would put taxpayers on the hook for the members’ irresponsibility. The judge’s order makes it sound like the members themselves will have to pay the legal costs out of their own pocket (or via their personal insurance providers). So that discrepancy will have to be cleared up. It could also be moot.
The Board voted early last month to keep fighting this battle. They even hired a law firm to handle that appeal. (Because losing once isn’t enough.) All of that took place before the judge issued the $203,000 amount.
So you can bet the Board will push back on both the merits of this case and the amount they owe in legal fees. There’s still a long way to go before all of this is resolved. But the bottom line is that these Board members are spending a lot of money to defend what they believe is a right to pray to Jesus at board meetings. If they ultimately win the case, it could turn many other school boards into Christian revival services.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)