Stop pushing your personal religion in school board meetings and official documents, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is once again insisting to a Colorado Springs school board member.
In a recent communication, Colorado Springs District 11 Board of Education Member Rev. Al Loma reportedly responded to a concerned district resident’s request to no longer include religious messages and bible quotes through his school board email by condemning the LGBTQ-plus community and quoting Romans 1:21-27 from the bible. FFRF is also dismayed that Loma has stated that the shooter (who claims a nonbinary identity) in the recent Colorado Springs Club Q tragedy “stood for LGBTQ-plus people,” rather than the five individuals killed or the 25 people wounded.
“We write to remind you that it is inappropriate and unconstitutional for you to abuse your public position to advance your personal religious beliefs, and ask that you immediately cease including religious messages and your religious signature in official district communications,” FFRF Staff Attorney Chris Line writes to Loma. FFRF has contacted District 11 in the past about this issue. In a recent communication to FFRF, Loma responded, “I appreciate the reminder. The automatic signature block has been removed. My thoughts and sincerest condolences for all those who suffered during the Club Q shooting.”
Despite the warning and the signature change, Loma defended his usage of bible quotes and attacked the media sources covering the situation at a school board meeting on Dec. 14, according to the Colorado Springs Business Journal. Both Loma and District 11 Board Vice President Jason Jorgensen have espoused religious rhetoric in their frequent attacks against the LGBTQ-plus community.
By promoting their personal religion, both Loma and Jorgensen are needlessly alienating a quarter of U.S. citizens who identify as non-Christians and up to 30 percent who identify as religiously unaffiliated. This creates the notion that Loma, Jorgensen and the District 11 school board at large prioritize Christian members of the community and place minority religion and nonreligious citizens in an outgroup.
In addition, the Establishment Clause prohibits any governmental office from showing favoritism to one religion over another. While Loma has removed the unconstitutional signature in question, both officials using religious rhetoric to continually assault LGBTQ-plus citizens creates the image that the school board itself has adopted a Christian stance and that any statements made by either official can be attributed to the school board, which is unconstitutional and inappropriate.
Officials are more than welcome to practice their own private religions on their own time. However, using school board meetings and official communications to promote these beliefs violates the establishment clause, and FFRF reminds both Loma and Jorgensen that the offices they represent belong to “We the people,” and not those who were elected to work in them.
“FFRF is deeply concerned about Rev. Al Loma’s continued refusal to adhere to the Establishment Clause,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “America was founded on protection from religious proselytization by elected officials — including school board members.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 38,000 members and several chapters across the country, including over 1,200 members and two chapters in Colorado, one of which is in Colorado Springs. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.