New York City to Ban Churches from Renting Empty Schools for Weekend Services
First they went after the guns and then they passed a ban on soda; the latest target that’s fallen into the crosshairs of New York City Officials seems to be the cities churches.
After years of being able to rent and use the cities empty schools to hold weekend services, over 160 congregations are now facing eviction from the City of New York.
The always irrational Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has found a new group to target for harassment. Although he regularly allows labor unions and other city groups free and full access to meet in New York City public schools, the Mayor has decided he won’t accord the same luxury to the cities churches; even though they’ve paid rent and have been doing so for years.
Last Chance Legal Appeal Faces Uphill Battle
The case is about to go in front of the Second U.S. Court of Appeals who has been hostile to churches in the past. At issue, is whether or not the Department of Education allowing churches to rent public schools during off-hours is an “endorsement” of that churches belief system.
In my opinion, this case is a perversion of the establishment clause and the separation of church and state. The establishment clause was never intended to block access to churches; in fact, it was specifically put in place to protect religious organizations so that the government could never mandate a certain religion. Unfortunately, and despite the founder’s intent, this clause is now being used by the state to limit religious freedoms.
These are Churches who help the Cities most Vulnerable Citizens
What’s even sadder about this attack on the Cities churches is who they’re going after with this crackdown. It specifically targets religious groups in lower income areas who may not be able to afford a dedicated worship building. Even more appalling, is the fact that many of these churches are the same groups who are providing relief to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Senior counsel Jordan Lorence of Alliance Defending Freedom, the group who is defending the cities churches, shared an example of one of the many affected churches:
“International Christian Center, which meets in a public school, has been reaching out, supplying food and water to those who have had their homes wrecked and their electricity off because of the hurricane.”
The fact that the NYC Department of Education and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have targeted these same groups for eviction, is a crying shame. One would think that in a city that’s been divested by record unemployment, burdened with a growing poverty level, and suffering from the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy; that government leaders would jump at the chance to bring in some extra income for the city. But apparently, if that income comes from allowing churches to rent unused school space, the city would rather go broke.