Recall Of Cruz, Na Afoot In CVUSD

A group of Chino and Chino Hills residents are contemplating a recall effort against two of the members of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, the Sentinel has learned.
The talk of a recall comes more than eight months after the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, Wisconsin filed suit in Federal Court in Riverside against the district on behalf of two named plaintiffs, Larry Maldonado and Mike Anderson, and 21 unnamed plaintiffs who asserted they were alienated or intimidated at school board meetings because of overt and constant references to Christianity, including “prayers, Bible readings and proselytizing.”
As that case is wending its way toward trial, one of the school board members accused of openly espousing his religious beliefs during school district functions, Andrew Cruz, courted further controversy with internet postings that some consider to be laden with messages of religious bigotry and intolerance of homosexuals.
In its suit against the district, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has cited Cruz and his fellow board member, James Na, for their recurrent efforts at secularizing the public hearings. Both Cruz and Na are members of the Chino Hills Calvary Chapel, a church led by the Reverend Jack Hibbs, who had successfully lobbied the board previously to include Bible study classes as part of the district’s high school curriculum. Hibbs evinces a denominationalist attitude, which holds that Christians have a duty to take over public office and promote their religious beliefs. Both Na and Cruz were able to convince the remainder of the board that the district would not sustain any costs or liability as a consequence of defending against the suit and in January the board voted 3-2 against hiring the law firm which normally represents the district to respond to the suit. Instead, the district engaged the Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute for $1 to defend the district in the civil lawsuit.
The Pacific Justice Institute, founded and led by Brad Dacus, touts itself as a public interest law firm that “handles cases addressing religious freedom, including church and private school rights issues, curtailments to evangelism by the government, harassment because of religious faith, employers attacked for their religious-based policies, [and] students and teachers’ rights to share their faith at public schools.” Critics of the Pacific Justice Institute characterize it as a “Radical Right extremist Christian law firm.”
While the Freedom From Religion Foundation originally was seeking relief in the form of the district simply discontinuing the overt Christian references at its various functions, taking the matter to trial may result in considerable costs to the district if it loses the case, as many impartial legal observers believe likely.
Many of those pursuing the recall have come to the conclusion that neither Na nor Cruz can be reasoned with and that they misunderstand the concept of freedom of religion, construing that principle to mean they are free to use the bully pulpit of their public office to proselytize others with their personal brand of Christianity and enunciate their rejection of other religious or social beliefs which clash with their own.
Many of Cruz and Na’s supporters, however, are not alarmed by the incipient political action against the duo, trusting in Divine Providence and comfortable in the belief that the Chino Valley is a God-fearing Christian community where those carrying out the Lord’s Will abide in the protection of His Holy Hand.

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