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-New York City: Mayor Will Allow Churches to Continue Using Schools

by Dr. D ~ April 1st, 2015

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NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will allow Churches to continue to rent school buildings for now in spite of a recent ruling the Supreme Court than allows a ban by the city’s Board of Education to continue. The current mayor says he intends to allow churches to have access on the same basis as any other group or non-profit. Here’s the story from the Religion News Service:

NEW YORK (RNS) Congregations in New York City that rent space in public schools will be able to hold Easter services this Sunday despite a ruling on Monday (March 30) by the U.S. Supreme Court rejecting an appeal from an evangelical church in the Bronx that sought to overturn a ban on after-hours worship services at public schools.

A spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio also said that the mayor would work to ensure that houses of worship could continue to rent space like any other group.

“Now that litigation has concluded, the city will develop rules of the road that respect the rights of both religious groups and nonparticipants,” Wiley Norvell said in response to the ruling. “While we review and revise the rules, groups currently permitted to use schools for worship will continue to be able to worship on school premises.” …

<Read the whole article>

Response: We have been following this story for several years because of the national implications. Churches are renting schools for services all across America. So when a Circuit Court rules in favor of a ban citing the separation of church and state as a reason it is a dangerous development that turns the Constitutional provision for religious freedom on its ear. Even more so since the Supreme Court refuses to take the case.

Fortunately the current NYC mayor seems more open to allowing the churches to stay or at least re-writing the rules to accommodate religious groups on the same basis as other community organizations or non-profits.

It will be interesting to see how this development plays out since most of the churches needing to rent school buildings are in poorer areas where this mayor received a great deal of support. At least the situation is better than it was under the previous mayoral administration of  Michael Bloomberg who was in favor of kicking the churches out.            *Top

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