A church in New York City has been pursuing its battle for the right to rent public school buildings to host religious services after school hours despite Mayor Bill de Blasio refusing to overturn the ban, as opposed to what he had promised believers during his electoral campaign.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm, recently filed a brief with the Supreme Court that pushes back against the city’s ban on such rentals by urging the country’s highest court to review a Court of Appeals Second Circuit ruling that earlier upheld New York City’s policy in favour of the ban. The ban in question was adopted and implemented by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“I believe that a faith-based organization has a right like anyone else … to use that space,” de Blasio had said at the time, pledging to update city regulations to reflect that sentiment.
However, de Blasio never went on to overturn the ban.
Currently, the ban is on hold, as the Supreme Court decides whether to review the Court of Appeals ruling. In the past, a High Court rejected the case.
While de Blasio failed to live up to the promise he made last year, his office went on to submit a petition to the Supreme Court on January 12, explaining that New York City’s policy is, in fact, permissible, as it does not impose restraint, prohibition or any burden on religious exercise.
“The department’s decision to make public schools available to religious organizations for a wide range of activities, but not for worship services or as a house of worship, is constitutional,” the city argued. “The policy does not prohibit, limit, or burden any religious practice; does not entangle the government in matters of religion; and does not impair petitioners’ ability to speak freely.”
According to the brief, the church in question, Bronx Household of Faith, has over time secured its own physical location and no longer requires to rent public school space for religious services.
However, this claim does not take into account the fact that several other congregations in the city do not have the same amount of space to carry out religious services. As a matter of fact, more than 100 churches have been in search of public schools and each of them cite a severe dearth of physical space.
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