Religious Liberty Victory for NYC Churches

On Friday, a district court issued a permanent injunction against New York City’s ban on the use of the schools for worship services, permitting city churches to continue renting space in public schools on weekends.

“Churches that have been helping communities for years can continue to offer the hope that empty buildings can’t,” explained Alliance Defense Fund senior counsel Jordan Lorence, who has been litigating the case. “The court’s order allows churches and other religious groups to meet for worship services in empty school buildings on weekend on the same terms as other groups.”

City officials and the New York City Board of Education, which first proposed the ban, have defended the policy by claiming that allowing religious services to be held in vacant public school facilities constitutes an inappropriate government endorsement of religion.

The Bronx Household of Faith, a small Christian congregation in the city, has led the 17-year legal battle over the ban’s apparent infringement on religious freedom, arguing that the rule violates the freedom of churches to express their beliefs in a public space.

As Lorence explained earlier in the case: “Churches and other religious groups should be able to meet in public buildings on the same terms as other community groups. They should not be excluded simply because of the religious nature of their speech.”

The city-wide ban on using public school facilities for religious services led to the eviction of over 60 churches across New York City in January of this year, forcing many congregations to look for new — and often expensive—alternatives. While a district court’s preliminary injunction allowed the churches to re-enter the public schools a month later and continue renting those spaces until a final ruling, the churches’ future was tenuous before Friday’s decision.

“Today is a day of victory for religious freedom and religious liberty in the city of New York,” Pastor Bill Devlin said on Friday. “Houses of worship of all faiths can now breathe a sigh of relief due to today’s ruling.”

In addition to constitutional questions surrounding the city’s ban, church leaders argued that prohibiting congregations from using public schools would jeopardize many churches’ successful efforts to serve the poor, reach out to gang members, and continue other charitable work in surrounding neighborhoods. >>> READ MORE

BLOGGER’s NOTE: Many Americans have no clue there is an all out war on religion, specifically Christianity, in these United States. It is a war that has been building over the last several decades with notable key victories along the way – victories for those without faith. While I have no problem living beside and being friendly with those who choose to live that life, it does not change the fact that belief/disbelief is not the real question! If there is no God, it should not offend those who worship no God to allow those of us who believe differently to do so. For years, some have alluded to faithful Christians as simple-minded, gullible, believers in nonsensical fairy tales and imaginary characters. So, why would we not simply be placated in our simplicity? Disbelief does not offend me, it saddens me, but it does not offend me, so why should my belief offend others?

The answer is not in what we do or don’t believe. It is in the attitude of “I’m right & you’re wrong!” that is rampant on BOTH sides of the issue. For those of us in the faith, we must recognize we cannot “will” others into belief. We cannot convince a man against his will. We must live our lives, worship as we will in word and deed, and the results are up to God, remember? Neither side has the exclusive on ‘CORRECT!’ Attitude is everything, and Christians have no business displaying arrogance in their faith – it’s a bit counterproductive, not to mention the antithesis of Jesus!

    Matt 7: 1 – 5: “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

That about covers it, I think.

“Preach the gospel always,
and when all else fails, use words.”

St Francis of Assisi