Deadline looms for dozens of New York city churches.
The city of New York is prepared to make good on its threat to forbid approximately 60 churches and religious groups from meeting within its schools. Last month, WordJourney reported that the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had set a Feb. 12 deadline to evict these groups, citing “separation of church and state” issues. Bloomberg is, of course, interpreting the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to include words that were not written. What the First Amendment does say is this:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Churches all across America regularly meet in local public schools. These churches secure the required permits and pay rent to meet in buildings that are funded with your tax dollars. Most meet on Sundays when schools are closed with mid-week services and other events held elsewhere. Cash-strapped school districts are helped as church tenants provide an additional revenue source. In some communities, including in upper Manhattan, churches such as the Heavenly Vision Christian Center reach out to gang members, inviting them to church. Janitors and other maintenance people are paid too, but that will come to an end this Sunday.
New York’s public schools will continue to lease rooms and collect rent once the churches have been evicted reports John Mattera writing for Human Events. Such groups, including labor unions, are granted full access to the city’s schools. Matera notes that Bloomberg’s angst over church access doesn’t extend to public school students attending a church building for their schooling. Indeed, P.S. 133 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, meets at St. Thomas Aquinas School where religious artifacts are covered over to “prevent the Department of Education from endorsing any religion,” notes Nicole Brydson writing for Brooklyn the Borough. You can see a picture of that school here.
Waiting on Albany
Bloomberg has seen very little support from city council leaders including Democrats who oppose his position. On the state level, lawmakers have introduced legislation to allow school districts across the state to grant access to religious groups, a law that would erase Bloomberg’s mandate. That law has passed the New York Senate, but has yet to be approved by the state Assembly reports WOR 710 radio.
The city’s pronounced opposition to religious groups meeting in public schools is just the latest of the many battles taking place all across the country pitting political secularists against people of faith.
Just this past week President Barack Obama issued an edict informing Catholic institutions that they must pay for health insurance that covers contraceptives including the morning after pill, an abortifacient drug that takes the life of a newly conceived human being. That move resulted in a firestorm of protests with the Obama administration amending its policy to transfer the burden of supplying contraceptives from the insitutions to their insurance company. However, the Catholic League noted that its own Christian Brothers insurance carrier would be required to violate its conscience by subsidizing abortions, something its league president, Bill Donohue, insists will not happen.
Photo: Robert Linder via SXC.hu
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