Church and State do not mix

Here is how a nonprofit works: the public can donate to the organization, which in turn, works toward achieving a certain transparent goal or promoting a certain transparent cause. Here is what is unethical: the public donating to an organization which abuses their power to influence political views. And here is what is illegal: A 501c(4) nonprofit church indirectly endorsing a politician in a public election.

By the First Amendment, church and state are required to be separate. Yet, Amy Chen delivering her CVUSD school board campaign speech at the podium of a chapel seems to send the community a different message.

It is not okay to blindly accept these infringements on our democracy. Candidates that are willing to take any opportunity (legality pending!) to get a leg up on their opponents should not be given the opportunity to govern. The people we elect should value basic principles of law; if they don’t, how can we expect them to have any integrity in office?

We have seen how the religious agenda of a school board member has affected the dignity and legitimacy of board decisions in the past. Incumbent school board trustee Mike Dunn has long touted his religious ideology in his many years as a board member — do we not remember how he stated that it was his prerogative to use his allegiance to Christianity when making board decisions? Or when he said that it is “far more important” where he “spends his eternity than being a school board trustee?” We need board members who understand and follow the First Amendment, not ones who blatantly disregard the separation of church and state.

Some may argue that it could be a completely honest mistake: Amy Chen could have not known that promoting herself in a church is unconstitutional. Even so, someone we want to be an elected official should be well-versed in legal matters — especially one as abundantly apparent as the First Amendment.

There is nothing wrong with having religious values. However, the school board exists to help positively mold all students into independent, forward thinking and inclusive people. This process is disrupted when the adults in charge of education use curriculum and public board meetings to preach their personal ideology.