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Colorado school booted teacher for opposing ‘Jesus pizza’ Bible studies during lunch: lawsuit

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In a lawsuit filed this week, a Colorado teacher claims that officials at Florence High School are using their facility to promote evangelical Christianity in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Employment attorney Paul Maxon told KMGH that his client, Robert Basevitz, was Jewish and felt that the Fremont RE-2 School District, Superintendent Rhonda Vendetti and Florence High School Principal Brian Schipper had discriminated against him by conspiring to promote Christianity above all other beliefs.

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“The administration is essentially running a public school as a Christian school,” Maxon explained. “On a single day last year, there were no fewer than five Evangelical activities sponsored by the school.”

“When the principal is participating in assemblies that pass out Bibles to students, it sends a message to the faculty and to the students that there’s an official religion at the school,” he observed.

According to the lawsuit, Principal Brian Schipper had allowed Pastor Randy Pfaff of Cowboy Church at Crossroads to promote Christianity throughout the school.

Pfaff was permitted to use the school’s public address system to “preach his evangelical Christian messages,” the lawsuit alleges.

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And Pfaff distributed fliers “with the support of the school’s staff, including Principal Schipper,” that advertised Christian events during school hours.

Pfaff runs the the Fellowship of Christian Huskies at Florence High School, which has a stated mission to “let God back in our schools” and “[bring] others to a saving knowledge of Jesus.” Principal Schipper and five other staff members at Florence High School serve as adult sponsors for the group.

Basevitz alleged that lunchtime Bible studies at the school had been nicknamed “Jesus pizza” by the students.

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After Basevitz complained to school administrators, he said that he was told to use the side doors because the prayer circle students regularly held in front of the school was so large that it blocked the main entrance.

“In an apparent attempt to ostracize [Basevitz], Defendants informed staff and students of Mr. Basevitz’s complaint and his Jewish heritage,” the lawsuit notes. “On January 9, 2015, [Basevitz] overheard a student saying, “we can’t do Jesus Pizza because Mr. B. is Jewish.”

“The fact that there’s a humorous nickname doesn’t mean it’s not serious,” Maxon pointed out. “It’s a serious matter when the Bill of Rights is violated. Some cases have gray areas about what’s illegal and not illegal. This case doesn’t have much of that.”

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Following Basevitz’s complaint to the school, the lawsuit states that “Pastor Pfaff posted on the Fellowship of Christian Huskies Facebook page, ‘The enemy always fights the hardest when he knows God has something great in store.'”

Maxon said that instead of addressing the teacher’s concerns, Basevitz “was shown the door, and transferred to a different school.”

For his part, Principal Schipper insisted to KMGH that the Christian events taking place during school hours were not causing religious discrimination.

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“During the morning prayer they just stand there and kids come over, kids go by, they say, ‘Good morning’ to kids,'” Schipper remarked. “It doesn’t get in the way of anybody getting into school. They make a point to stay out of the way of everybody, actually.”

“We’re preparing kids to be good, productive people when they walk out of here. We do great things every day,” he added.

Watch a video report below from KMGH.

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White House urged diplomats to stay quiet about withheld aid to Ukraine: ‘Nothing to see here’

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As Democrats proceed with impeachment, there are explosive new revelations almost daily related to President Donald Trump's dealings with Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that top diplomats were instructed to keep quiet about the temporary freeze on the $141 million package of aid to Ukraine.

“Keep moving, people, nothing to see here,” Brad Freden, the State Department’s acting deputy assistant secretary of Europe and Eurasia, said in an email.

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A caller from California noted to C-SPAN on Thursday that many Republican callers on the East coast do not seem to have jobs.

At the close of Thursday's Washington Journal program, C-SPAN host Bill Scanlan spoke to a Democratic caller named Ray from Napa Valley, California.

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Schiff warns Pompeo: Encouraging witnesses not to testify ‘will be considered evidence of obstruction’

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) warned Secretary of Secretary Mike Pompeo about discouraging officials from cooperating with the House impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump.

"We are deeply concerned about Secretary Pompeo’s effort now to potentially interfere with witnesses whose testimony is needed before our committee, many of whom are mentioned in the whistleblower complaint," Schiff said at a press conference on Wednesday.

"And we want to make it abundantly clear that any effort by the secretary, by the president or anyone else to interfere with the Congress’ ability to call before it relevant witnesses will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress," he continued.

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