In January, California raided River View Christian Academy based on rumors that the school was stockpiling drugs and weapons in preparation for the “end of the world”.
The raid proved the rumors false; however, instead of apologizing for its obvious error, the state has doubled-down on its efforts to shut the school down. California bureaucrats later declared that River View Christian Academy wasn’t really a school, but rather a “community care facility”, and, as such, required to meet a host of rules and regulations in order to remain in operation.
The additional rules and regulations wouldn’t just create more work for the school; they would compromise it entirely by requiring it to go against its basic religious and moral standards to allow “the right to engage in spiritual and sexual exploration.”
Given the fact that the parents and students at the school selected the facility to receive a Christian education, RVCA is fighting the state in court in order to regain the right to provide its parents and children the educational freedom they signed up for.
Thankfully, California has gotten a lesson on basic First Amendment rights. Shasta County Superior Court Judge Tamara Woods denied California’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which would have forced River View Christian Academy to shut down while the case against it is in progress. Her ruling does not end the case against the school. A trial is scheduled to begin in April 2020, and only time will tell if RVCA will be able to continue operating. Even so, the ruling is a sign that the judge does recognize the enormous free speech implications in the case.
The Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing River View Christian Academy, has made it clear that the case against the school is based solely on bias against the school’s religious beliefs. As PJI accurately notes, River View Christian Academy has been operating as a private school for the last 25 years and, during this time, has met the requirements for private schools in California by filing an affidavit with the California Department of Education every single year.
What’s more, the state has confirmed that RVCA is a school three times in the last ten years. It also bears mentioning that California has admitted that the initial raid, which led to the case against River View Christian Academy, was prompted by an internet rumor spread by an online tabloid.
Indeed, it’s hard to see why River View Christian Academy should be forced to defend itself in court in the first place. In fact, the school could make an excellent case against the state in civil court given the fact that California’s “Waco-style” raid against the school needlessly terrified students and staff members alike. If the school were an LGBTQ facility rather than a Christian educational facility, the raid would have made national news, and California’s politicians would be continually apologizing for the error and offering compensation to anyone who wanted it.
Given the fact that California has a checkered record of attempting to suppress First Amendment rights, it’s refreshing to see that there are some people in power in the state who understand the importance of freedom of speech, belief, thought and assembly.
The case against River View Christian Academy isn’t over, but the school has certainly earned the right to celebrate its recent win.