NEW YORK – Of all the serious problems facing New York City’s public schools – low test scores, chronic budget deficits,predatory teachers, a self-serving teachers union – you’d think city officials would welcome a divine influence in their school buildings, if only on the weekends.
You’d be wrong.
The New York Times reports that city officials have spent nearly 20 years trying to stop religious groups from holding worship services in unused school buildings on weekends. Officials argued that the practice violated the separation of church and state.
A federal judge rejected that argument late last week, noting that the city was running afoul of the First Amendment’s establishment clause.
“Before the ruling on Friday, the city required that churches wanting to use a public school list all the activities that were going to take place before they were granted a permit,” the Times reports. “If the city found that those activities crossed a line – from discussion to worship – the permit could be denied and the group expelled.”
Such practices led U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska to conclude that city officials were prohibiting citizens from freely exercising their religion, a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. The city is likely to appeal the decision, according to the Times.
We doubt if city leaders would play 20 questions with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League before granting it access to empty school space. Yet officials have been playing hardball with the Bronx Household of Faith “for years,” according to the Times.
The only explanation is bigotry. City officials aren’t comfortable with the thought of conservative religious groups using public property to spread their sometimes controversial, non-politically correct teachings.
Thankfully Judge Preska understands that the school buildings belong to taxpayers of all religious or non-religious stripes, and that all Americans should have equal access to them.
That verdict nicely affirms the spirit of American freedom.
Happy Independence Day!
This is a copy of the full article provided by EAGnews