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Federal Court Rules That Church Can't Hold Services in City School

Thursday, June 02, 2011

education, classroom, school, school supplies, class, teachers, students (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

A federal court sided with the city on Thursday in a decision that bars churches from renting space for religious services in public schools.

In a 2-to-1 ruling, judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found the city's policy does not impose a restraint on free expression.

The decision reverses an earlier ruling by a district court in 2002 that allowed the Bronx Household of Faith to use PS 15 in the University Heights neighborhood for Sunday worship services following years of litigation.

Robert Hall, the evangelical church's co-pastor, said he will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary on First Amendment grounds. He called the decision "one of the great judicial ironies" because the next time his group wants to rent a school, it will be forced to ask if it "crossed the line from instruction to worship."

But Jane Gordon, senior counsel of the appeals division of the NYC law department, said she was pleased with the court's decision to uphold the department of education's policy, which does not allow its schools to be used for congregational worship services.

"The department is quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice," Gordon said in a statement. "The decision is a victory for the city's school children and their families."

The Bronx Household of Faith first sued the city in 1995 when it was denied permission to hold its Sunday services in a middle school. The 40-year old church doesn't have a permanent home but is now building one across the street from PS 15 on Andrews Avenue.

Dozens of churches have been renting space from city schools since a lower court first allowed the Bronx House of Worship to do so several years ago. The Department of Education said it is reviewing its next steps for groups that are currently holding worship services in city schools and has no intention of asking groups to cease using school buildings for services before the end of the school year.

15 years of litigation

  • 1995 - Bronx Household of Faith brings lawsuit seeking to hold worship services in public middle school, claiming free speech rights were violated because some after-school and other community organizations are permitted to meet in city schools. U.S. District Court rules in favor of the city and dismisses suit.
  • 2001 - U.S. Supreme Court rules in Good News Club v. Milford Central School that upstate New York school district violated free speech rights by preventing an after-school Bible study club to meet. Bronx Household of Faith brings new lawsuit.
  • 2002 - U.S. District Court requires city's department of education to grant permission to the Bronx Household of Faith and any other similar group to meet in city schools during non-school hours. Groups pay fees that amount to reimbursement of security and custodial costs.
  • 2003 - U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirms district court's decision, 2-1.
  • 2007 - Bronx Household of Faith wins suit in district court after city presents additional evidence to bar churches from using schools. City appeals.
  • 2009 - Second Circuit hears case, city says 60 congregations have obtained permits to use public schools for regular worship services.
  • 2011 - Second Circuit finds in the city's favor, rules in 2-1 decision that policy against allowing religious worship in schools imposes "no restraint on the free expression of any point of view."

Information for timeline provided by New York City Law Department

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Comments [5]

marjiwoj from http://www.designsonthetruth.com

It's amazing what our present day courts can do with the law when their decisions are predicated on lies.
When Thomas (Danbury Baptist) Jefferson was president, church services were held in the U.S. Capitol building! Jefferson and many of the other founders attended weekly. In fact, the building was used for church services for the better part of the 19th century. Would the original authors of the constitution have directly violated the documents they just established?
Only in the Land of Magical Mendacity that lefties inhabit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgrROm6H7H0&feature=player_embedded#at=302

Jun. 04 2011 04:31 PM
constitution Wow

Round Rock Rev must not have read the Constitution or anything about separation of Church and State. Since schools are part of the State and where the kids must be protected, we certainly do not want indoctrination by outside forces.
Preach within your Church or home and all is well within this country. It's called Freedom!

Jun. 03 2011 12:04 PM
con stitution

Round Rock Rev must not have read the Constitution or anything about separation of Church and State. Since schools are part of the State and where the kids must be protected, we certainly do not want indoctrination by outside forces.
Preach within your Church or home and all is well within this country. It's called Freedom!

Jun. 03 2011 12:03 PM
constitution

Round Rock Rev must not have read the Constitution or anything about separation of Church and State. Since schools are part of the State and where the kids must be protected, we certainly do not want indoctrination by outside forces.
Preach within your Church or home and all is well within this country. It's called Freedom!

Jun. 03 2011 12:00 PM
Rev. Daniel W. Blair from Round Rock, TX USA

This is outrageous! How long will Christians take this sitting down? Is it not time to get up and fight for what we believe in? We are sending our troops overseas fighting for some else, while our rights back home are being stripped away. Come on Christians stand up for what you believe in. Call on God though prayer - maybe it's time for Christians to take to the streets. Who found this country the heathens or Christians? Who bled and died for this country? Who were the founding fathers? Where they Muslims? Where the heathens or atheist? Or were they Christians? Posted by Rev. Daniel W. Blair, author of Final Warning http://www.revelation-truth.org

Jun. 02 2011 09:46 PM

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