The Supreme Court Bans Worship in NYC Public School Buildings
For the past 17 years, the Bronx Household of Faith has been pressing its case for allowing religious worship services to be held at public schools. On December 5, 2011, the Supreme Court rejected the small church’s plea yet again. In its ruling, the Supreme Court also left in place a ruling with allows public schools to offer prayer and religious instruction but bans worship services.
“We’re very disappointed,” said Pastor Robert Hall. “We think this is a dangerous precedent that allows the state to make a distinction between various types of religious activity.”
For the past several years, many religious groups in New York have been conducting their worship services in public buildings, including Public School 15, where the Bronx Household of Faith has been worshiping since 2002. However, according to the new action passed by the Supreme Court, this will not be allowed after February 12, 2012.
“We view this as a victory for the city’s schoolchildren and their families,” said Jane Gordon, a senior counsel for the city of New York City. “The department was quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice.”
This case is obviously about the risk of blurring church-state separation, as outlined in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which also defends our Freedom to Speech. It’s possible that this case will have long-reaching consequences for other schools across the nation.
“I’m concerned that other school districts that now permit religious groups to worship will reconsider,” said Jordan Lorence of the Alliance Defense Fund. Lorence argued the Bronx Household of Faith’s case in court.
However, it’s possible that this story isn’t quite over just yet. Fernando Cabrera, a New York City Councilman, said he plans on introducing new legislation this week which will allow worship in schools after classes have finished.
“This case was never about special treatment,” said Cabrera. “It was about fairness and I fully intend to continue this fight until we see some action.”
Via The Huffington Post