Because of a court’s ruling against one particular small church in the Bronx, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has now decreed that come February 12, 2012, all churches and fellowships meeting in public schools – 160 in total – have to be evicted.
This terrible decision against religious freedom could impact the souls of thousands of people in New York City. And if this precedent is allowed to stand, the cancer could spread to other cities as well.
These churches generally have great relationships with the community. They provide services and revenue for the city. But it seems that is trumped by the ABC principle – ABC as in Anything But Christ.
This case goes back several years. In the name of the separation of church and state, the educational establishment of New York City decided that churches could not meet in schools for worship. They could meet in schools for discussions or sports events, but not divine services.
So one church, the Bronx Household of Faith, whose pastor was mentored by Francis Schaeffer, filed suit with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian legal group that Dr. Kennedy and a handful of other leaders founded. As long as the litigation continued, that church (and other churches) have been able to meet in public schools.
Greg Baylor an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund told Truth in Action Ministries, “Unfortunately, even though they had a temporary injunction that allowed them to meet in the public schools, the New York City education officials kept fighting them in the courts. They were insistent upon their objective of keeping out the churches. And they eventually persuaded the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, which is headquartered in New York City, to say ‘Yes, you school districts can keep out churches who want to engage in religious worship services.’”
After the Appeals Court decision in December 2011, the ADF appealed the case to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court receives thousands of requests every year. (I remember hearing in a recent year, it was about 8,000.) But they turn down the vast majority of requests, only agreeing to hear a small number of cases (about 80-100). Therefore, no one should read too much into the Supreme Court’s refusal to take on any case. It’s not on the same level as an out-and-out Supreme Court ruling on a particular issue.
Mayor Bloomberg is reading way too much into the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the appeal.
So here we are in a country founded for religious freedom—where residents of our largest city are about to lose theirs.
George Washington said, “If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed by the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it.” So George Washington would not agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s decision.
John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” So John Adams would not agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s decision.
As president, Thomas Jefferson attended church every week at the U. S. Capitol. If they didn’t think that government buildings should be allowed for worship, what was that about? So Thomas Jefferson would not agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s decision.
We are sure you are as appalled by Mayor Bloomberg’s decision as we are, and so we’ve created an urgent, respectful Letter of Appeal urging mayor Bloomberg to reverse his decision and also calling upon the New York State Legislature to stand opposed to this veiled attempt to restrict our religious liberties. Please stand with us and sign the letter today!
Just because one court said the school doesn’t have to open its door to one church, should not give the mayor carte blanche to kick out all the churches from public schools.
Imagine the net impact if we let this terrible decision go unchallenged. Cultural trends often spread from New York City to the rest of the country. Think of all the churches in our land that meet in schools. The late Dr. D. James Kennedy founded Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, which met initially in a local public elementary school.
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Jordan Lorence, who’s been dealing with this case for years, said they’ve now exhausted all legal appeals on this.
Thankfully, other ministries, such as Family Research Council, are getting involved in fighting this injustice as well.
So what can we do about it? First, we can pray that God would cause the mayor to realize that what he’s doing is wrong. It does not fit with our history or traditions or law. (The church had even won at the District Court level.)
We can respectfully appeal to the mayor and the state legislature to not evict the churches from the schools of New York City. Some of the congregations are so small and limited in their resources that they might end up folding if this decision goes through.
Thirdly, we can also appeal to the legislative body for the state of New York to overrule the mayor’s decision. There’s already an emergency bill in the works. If that were to get passed, then it would overrule the mayor’s eviction notice to the churches. Please sign our Letter of Appeal.
For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we can’t sit idly by while the secularists take a huge step to ending religious freedom in America, a country whose motto is still “In God We Trust”
May God have mercy on us in this country. And let us all be found faithful, as we each do our part for such a time as this.