California School District Decides to Restrict Prayer and Bible Citations During Public Meetings

A school district board in California voted on November 3 to set restrictions on the practice of prayer and citation of Bible verses during public meetings.

Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education made the decision to change its practice of beginning meetings with prayer amidst a legal battle with Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group.

In November 2014, the district was sued by FFRF, representing anonymous staff, students who said the school board was violating the First amendment with the practices of opening the meetings with prayer and citing Bible verses during meetings.

In February, U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Bernal ruled against the school board, deeming the prayers and bible citations "unconstitutional government endorsements of religion," which violates the First Amendment.

In response, the school board changed its policy on prayer.

"As the elected legislative body of the Chino Valley Unified School District, the board of education recognizes that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees each person's individual right to free exercise of religion or non-religion, and prevents the government and other public officials from establishing a religion or non-religion," the new policy reads.