Bloomberg Defends City Ban on Allowing Religious Services to be Held in Public Schools

Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the NYS Assembly, said the body will await a legal decision before pushing to authorize religious services in public schools.Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced his support for a city ban preventing religious institutions from holding services in public schools, sources have reported. The mayor championed the ban, which evicted a number of congregations from their long-held public sanctuaries on Sunday, as emblematic of the constitutional outlook on religion, church and state.

“I’ve always thought that one of the great things about America is that we keep a separation between church and state,” explained Bloomberg, “ and the more clear that separation is, the more those people who want to be able to practice their religion will have the opportunity to do so.”

“For those that want to get rid of those separations, let me just point out,” the mayor continued, someday the religion that’s practiced there may not be your religion and you might in that sense look back and say,’ let’s keep the two separate.’”

The religious situation in question dates to 1995, when the Bronx Household of Faith was denied the ability to worship in a middle school. In the interim, as the case went through the court system, congregations continued to hold services in schools. A federal appeals court upheld the city’s ruling in June, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review an appeal spelled what appeared to be the end of a seventeen year legal battle. The Supreme Court turned down the case in December, and relevant churches were given two months to make the necessary adjustments. On Sunday, services in public schools were officially banned by the City, and outrage has resulted from the victims, who are mostly of varying Christian denominations. According to the media, more than 50 congregations have been affected by the latest policy.

For the majority of the expelled congregations, reestablishment, in a fiscal sense, has come at a significant price. Coming from expensive residential areas, a number of parishioners have found themselves in foreign neighborhoods and churches, exacting a personal toll if not a financial one.
Critics continue to press the city to overturn the ruling, stressing the congregations’ citywide contributions as indicative of their importance. Further, opponents of the ban allege a religious presence in public schools on days where schools are not in session refutes any arguments about church and state. In their opinion, children and adults do not view the presence of churches in schools on Sundays as state endorsement of a particular faith. Affected worshippers have not forfeited following evictions, however, and a proposal to emend the current situation has already passed through the state Senate. To reach the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, the proposal needs to also pass through the Assembly.

Sheldon Silver, an Orthodox Jew and one of the city’s leading politicians, repudiated the plan to reinstall services as “seriously flawed,” and said its wording would allow groups as radical as the KKK to conduct services in schools. Silver, who serves as Assembly Speaker, said the governmental body will await a legal decision before promoting a bill to implement policy change.

“The court decision will give us some further guidance,” Silver told the Daily News. “We’re trying to put something together that recognizes the Supreme Court decision on separation [of church and state] that would also give the city some discretion that is within reason.” Bloomberg Defends City Ban on Allowing Religious Services to be Held in Public Schools

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced his support for a city ban preventing religious institutions from holding services in public schools, sources have reported. The mayor championed the ban, which evicted a number of congregations from their long-held public sanctuaries on Sunday, as emblematic of the constitutional outlook on religion, church and state.

“I’ve always thought that one of the great things about America is that we keep a separation between church and state,” explained Bloomberg, “ and the more clear that separation is, the more those people who want to be able to practice their religion will have the opportunity to do so.”

“For those that want to get rid of those separations, let me just point out,” the mayor continued, someday the religion that’s practiced there may not be your religion and you might in that sense look back and say,’ let’s keep the two separate.’”

The religious situation in question dates to 1995, when the Bronx Household of Faith was denied the ability to worship in a middle school. In the interim, as the case went through the court system, congregations continued to hold services in schools. A federal appeals court upheld the city’s ruling in June, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to review an appeal spelled what appeared to be the end of a seventeen year legal battle. The Supreme Court turned down the case in December, and relevant churches were given two months to make the necessary adjustments. On Sunday, services in public schools were officially banned by the City, and outrage has resulted from the victims, who are mostly of varying Christian denominations. According to the media, more than 50 congregations have been affected by the latest policy.

For the majority of the expelled congregations, reestablishment, in a fiscal sense, has come at a significant price. Coming from expensive residential areas, a number of parishioners have found themselves in foreign neighborhoods and churches, exacting a personal toll if not a financial one.
Critics continue to press the city to overturn the ruling, stressing the congregations’ citywide contributions as indicative of their importance. Further, opponents of the ban allege a religious presence in public schools on days where schools are not in session refutes any arguments about church and state. In their opinion, children and adults do not view the presence of churches in schools on Sundays as state endorsement of a particular faith. Affected worshippers have not forfeited following evictions, however, and a proposal to emend the current situation has already passed through the state Senate. To reach the desk of Governor Andrew Cuomo, however, the proposal needs to also pass through the Assembly.

Sheldon Silver, an Orthodox Jew and one of the city’s leading politicians, repudiated the plan to reinstall services as “seriously flawed,” and said its wording would allow groups as radical as the KKK to conduct services in schools. Silver, who serves as Assembly Speaker, said the governmental body will await a legal decision before promoting a bill to implement policy change.

“The court decision will give us some further guidance,” Silver told the Daily News. “We’re trying to put something together that recognizes the Supreme Court decision on separation [of church and state] that would also give the city some discretion that is within reason.”

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