In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
Four pastors, including a member of City Council, were among seven men arrested Thursday morning in front of the city Law Department during a protest of the city’s ban on allowing churches to hold worship services in public school buildings, the police and organizers said.
I have to admit this is the kind of thing when i first hear about it i think doesn't happen, except as a bogeyman in the minds of the same people who think two men marrying is an attack on their marriage or religion. But it is happening. The article doesn't even have a hint of an explanation as to why NYC has decided religious groups cannot use school property.
Organized prayer during school hours could border on state-sanctioned religion (though of course students should be able to do what they like). But school buildings can be and should be used as community resources when available. In all cases the same rules should apply to everyone and have nothing to do with religion. If you aren't interfering with anyone's eduction, if you aren't damaging school property, you should have the same opportunity to use or rent school resources as any group that also abides by the same rules. Religious affiliation should not be taken into account one way or another, that is what non-discrimination is.
"MA" in New York, NY wrote:
It's too bad that a building built to serve a community is unavailable to the community who wants to meet there for religious purposes. Our church, which met in a NYCHA center until last week when we were given 2 days notice on removal, serves the neighborhood. Half of our congregants live in NYCHA, and everyone lives within walking distance of the center. Our congregation is largely comprised of single moms and their children, the disabled and the elderly, all from the immediate neighborhood, who no longer have access to their designated community center.
Moreover, these churches are paying rent, just like someone holding a private party or using the space for any other purpose, and those rent dollars are a tremendous benefit to the DOE and NYCHA. The NYCHA center rented by our church has used our rent dollars (over $32,000 during the past two years) to send community children on trips and purchase much-needed equipment, purchases which would otherwise be beyond NYCHA's decreasing budget. What a loss for them, in this time when public resources are becoming more scarce than ever.
Regarding liability insurance, we do have liability insurance covering our time at the center. Wouldn't have it any other way.