So a New York City Appeals Court ruling banning churches from renting space in NYC public schools for Sunday worship has been upheld by virtue of the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusing to hear the case.
“The Department was quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice,” said Jane Gordon, senior counsel for the New York City Law Dept. “”The Court of Appeals correctly upheld the Department of Education’s policy not to allow the City’s public schools to be used as houses of worship. This case has been litigated for 16 years, and we’re gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to hear it. We view this as a victory for the City’s school children and their families.”
The Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case leaves in place a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the city’s policy.
The court case involved the Bronx Household of Faith – a church that paid weekly rent to hold worship services at a public school since 2002. The church, along with five dozen other congregations, was allowed to continue worshipping at public schools pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
It’s a sad day for religious liberty,” said Jordan Lorence, the church’s attorney and senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund. “Churches and religious other groups should be allowed to meet in public buildings on the same terms as other community groups and they’re being denied that in New York City.”
You have to love this reasoning:
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that allowing churches to use schools resulted in an “unintended bias in favor of Christian religions” – since most Christian churches worship on Sunday.
“Jews and Muslims generally cannot use school facilities for their services because the facilities are often unavailable on the days that their religions principally prescribe for services,” Judge Pierre Leval declared.
Who knew Christians worshiped on Sunday, as opposed to Jews and Muslims? Amazing what you learn after 2,000 years.
Do you have any idea how many congregations use public school facilities on Sunday in New York City? For about ten years I sat in more public schools for Sunday worship than I did in traditional church buildings. Mainline churches are dying, many of them supporting paltry weekly attendance, yet vibrant evangelical congregations, which also provide aid to the homeless and needy regardless of religion, are now left homeless because they worship on Sunday. Redeemer Presbyterian rents Hunter College for two of its five services every Sunday. Will it have to move now? Does this ruling apply to public colleges as well as elementary and high schools?
And what about the income those schools get from the churches? Here was found money when the buildings were otherwise empty and dark. How stupid is this?
I think the real fear at work here has nothing to do with the “establishment” of a religious bias in favor of Christianity (puh-leeze) but that the continued and growing presence of Christianity in the halls of academia was depressing to those who keep waiting for the death of religion in favor of what a public school education has to offer. (crickets)
UPDATE: “The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) won on Friday a permanent injunction in the 17-year legal battle involving the Bronx Household of Faith and the NYC Board of Education. Religious groups will now be allowed to meet freely for worship services in public school facilities.” For more, read here. Seventeen years in court facing down dimwits and bigots. Your tax money at work, New York . . .