Attorney: Florence High School sent message school had an official religion

Jun 2, 2015

By Sarah Rose

The Florence-Penrose School District superintendent says there is a separation of church and state in the district, but a teacher in the district disagrees.

Robert Basevitz filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday, claiming Florence High School “operates largely to promote the evangelical Christian ideals” of The Cowboy Church at Crossroads.

The church rents cafeteria space at FHS for Sunday morning services, hosts prayer every morning before school around the flagpole and hosts bible study and pizza during lunch in a school classroom, according to the Denver Post.

“Generally speaking, students are allowed to participate in student-led groups, regardless of the content of those groups, but that’s a much different situation that we have here where these religious activities were promoted by, sponsored by and endorsed by the school faculty,” Paul Maxon, attorney for Basevitz, told the Daily Record on Wednesday. “That really sent a message to the students and the faculty members that the school had an official religion.”

Maxon said school employees distribute bibles to the students.

Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

14 comments on “Attorney: Florence High School sent message school had an official religion

  • OP :

    “This nation was founded on Christianity.”

    Where was Jesus among all the different sects ? And where was Jesus when it came to the aboriginal natives’ beliefs in their own spirits or whatever, before the white man came with the bible, took their land, and gave them the Bible as a replacement ?

    Hmm ?

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  • It did not explicitly say so, but this is a public school. It is important to understand the activities were not mandatory, though pervasive.

    Giving one church access to students to the exclusion of others violates the spirit of the constitution.

    This is in Colorado, where people don’t usually behave like Texans.

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  • “I don’t believe the constitution was meant to keep God out of the schools. That’s absolutely absurd,”

    Which god?

    I wonder what would happen if I came to that school and started sacrificing bulls to Poseidon. I bet they would think that absurd!

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  • By way of disclosure, I am an evangelical Christian. I also think that references to God on our currency and in the Pledge ought to be removed along with prayers before governmental meetings. However, these activities at the school are voluntary. You may not like it but if students want to participate, then they have every right to do so. In some communities, the church really is the center. That may not be a good thing but I don’t see anything here worth suing about.

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  • 6
    Michael says:

    I find it amusing that the preacher was kicked out of the school in February. I suspect it was after tje formal complaint was filed but before the lawsuit. The article didn’t make it clear. If the school was on solid Constitutional ground why ask the church members to leave?

    As for these activities being voluntary, I believe the acyities of a student group must be student led. The teacher’s feeling that the school was promoting fundamentalist Christianiry appears supported if the facts are as he says. I commend him for standing up because by doing so he protects everyone’s rights: the Catholic kids the Muslim kids, the Jewish kids, the atheist kids and the fundamentalist Christian kids who believe in equality of religious freedom and in following the Constitution.

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  • As a tax payer, there is absolutely no room for proselytizing by the the staff of a public school. There is also no room for allowing the premises to be used for religious purposes by a church or any religious group. I see no problem if students pray privately or belong to religious groups as long as proselyting or bullying is not part of their activities. It is worth suing about. Regardless of the claims made by the pastor of the church, our country is not founded on Christianity. Just read the opinions of Jefferson, Adams, and others who penned the constitution. Even the Christians among them had little to no tolerance for organized religion. Freedom from religion is also part of what our constitution provides.

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  • How is participation ‘voluntary’ when the pastor was permitted to broadcast his prayers over the school’s PA system? There’s a difference between physically being present of one’s own free will at a prayer meeting, or morning prayers; and having them broadcast to the school regardless if where the students choose to be. And if, as the school authorities and this church appear to claim, the majority of the students ‘chose’ to attend, why was there then a need to broadcast them at all?
    Sorry – there is nothing ‘voluntary’ about this situation. And giving out personalised bibles? Again – this is blatantly pushing one religion to the exclusion of all others. Not to mention basically bribing teenagers with pizza if they ‘voluntarily’ attend at lunchtime!
    No – this secular public school is sending a clear message: we have an official religion, Christianity – like it or lump it!

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  • 10
    Tracey says:

    Not to mention the smallpox infected blankets etc. There’s a comment that the native people’s should have been able to repel a couple of boats of settlers, but didn’t because they were too busy fighting with each other. First: there were of course more native people – but they weren’t all at Plymouth bloody rock to shove the puritans back in the water! Second: the settlers were a ‘sect’ themselves – they were allegedly fleeing persecution; only to enthusiastically perpetrate the same intolerance towards the people already living in the Americas. And finally: it’s a bit damn difficult to fight off the foreign invaders when you’re desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to fight off the foreign diseases they brought with them!
    The US was not ‘founded’ on religion – it was pinched from it’s original residents by religious zealots. The same thing happened in my own country, and indeed all over the world.

    Btw: this very stupid system will apparently not allow me to correct errors without deleting all the way back and rewriting (if anyone knows how, please let me know!) – hence annoying grammatical errors *peoples (without the misplaced apostrophe! )

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  • 13
    christopher says:

    If it’s a private school fine be as religous as you want. But one funded with tax payer money , um no. Kind of goes against that whole seperation of church and state thing. But to many dedicated faith heads, there is no wall or shouldn’t be. I am cynical enough to think that whenever I hear the words ‘school choice’, school voucher, or charter school its really code for religous instruction i.e a religous school.

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  • I thought that was a myth i.e. that the Pilgrims were fleeing religious persecution.
    (A nation-building myth, much as the history of the genocide of the aboriginal Americans has been retold as savages vs peaceful settlers.)
    It’s more or less the opposite. They came from an England that was (for the time) fairly tolerant of religion, and did not want to allow the Pilgrims the kind of persecuting they wanted to do. They tried Holland, but that didn’t work out either. So they decided to try the New World, where they could make the rules and get to be the persecutors…

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