Friday, May 01, 2015

California Megachurch Challenges Church-State Boundaries

The Center for Investigative Reporting on Wednesday posted a long report on a megachurch in Chino Hills, California that is attempting to break down the church-state barrier.  Three of the five members of the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education worship at the 10,000-member Calvary Chapel.  Apparently two of them bring their praying and preaching regularly into school board meetings.The church's Pastor Jack Hibbs frequently flouts IRS regulations by urging his congregants to vote for specific anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage and pro-Israel candidates. Hibbs says he is only precluded from endorsing candidates "from behind the pulpit." So during services Hibbs walks in front of the pulpit, blesses a favored candidate, tells the congregation how great the person is and that he is voting for the individual.  Hibbs also uses social media to endorse candidates. Every election, Calvary Chapel hands out questionnaires on conservative issues to candidates and then distributes the responses to the congregation. Following the lead of Pastor Hibbs, the school board has approved a course on The Bible and Its Influence and has opposed the state's transgender protection law. Last November, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit against the Chino Valley School Board over the prayers and preaching at board meetings. (See prior posting.)