December 05, 2011 | permalink
UPDATE December 5, 12:45 p.m.: Supreme Court refused to review ruling, allowing Second Circuit decision to stand.
The New York City Board of Education has a policy that allows community groups—including religious groups—to make use of school facilities after hours and on weekends but excludes both services of worship and partisan political groups. The constitutionality of this sensible policy was recently upheld by a decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Today the Supreme Court considers whether to revisit this ruling. The decision could create a landmark decision regarding use of public school facilities as houses of worship, and will have an immediate affect the well over 60 houses of worship that currently operate rent-free in New York City’s public schools.
All but a tiny handful of the houses of worship in New York City’s public schools are evangelical churches
At my daughter’s public school on New York’s Upper East Side, a church that is part of the New Apostolic Reformation religious movement, which asserts government, finance, the arts, media, education, and politics should be brought under Christian control, occupies the school rent-free on some Wednesday and Friday nights as well as all day on Sunday. The church does not pay rent.
In my New York Times op ed last June, I describe my first experience visiting the “church” in my daughter’s public school:
“Notice the names of the children on pieces of paper,” the pastor advised his flock. I looked around and saw the posters the kids had made, with their charming snapshots from summer holidays and rambling lists of likes and dislikes. “Pray for them!” the pastor continued. “Pray that the families of this school will come to know Jesus and say, ‘This is a House of God!’ “
The pastor’s daughter, a lively 8-year-old who attends a private Christian school, took me on a brief tour through parts of the school I had not yet seen. “This is my dad’s church!” she enthused.
Read more at The New York Times: