Judge grants permanent injunction to allow Bronx church to meet at public school on SundaysDistrict court in New York rules in favor of Bronx Household of Faith in decade-long legal battle over church’s equal access rights
Friday, November 02, 2007
NEW YORK — A federal district court Thursday issued a permanent injunction ordering the New York City public schools to allow Bronx Household of Faith and other local churches to rent school buildings on the weekends for their worship services.
“Government officials may not discriminate against religious groups wanting to rent public buildings that are open to other community groups,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that the government must allow religious groups to meet in its facilities on the same terms and conditions that they allow nonreligious groups to meet. We are very pleased that the district court has ruled in favor of accommodating religious liberty, instead of exclusion.”
For more than a decade, ADF has defended the equal access rights of Bronx Household of Faith as the New York City Department of Education has fought to keep the church from renting school facilities for Sunday meetings. School officials claim that to allow churches like Bronx Household of Faith to meet in the schools would violate the so-called “separation of church and state,” a claim that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected in an earlier ruling.
“If the government opens the doors of public facilities to the community, then it is unlawful for officials to discriminate against religious groups conducting worship services,” said Lorence. “This is a very clear, simple constitutional principle that has taken more than a decade and multiple court rulings to enforce against the New York City Department of Education.”
ADF attorneys expect New York City school officials to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
A copy of Thursday’s decision in Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York can be read here.