ICC Note: Led by Mayor Bill DeBlasio, the city of New York is continuing to fight to keep churches from meeting in the city’s public schools. The Bronx Household of Faith, who is being represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, has been in a legal battle with the Board of Education of the City of New York since 1995 when it was denied access to the use of a public school building. The case has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for a second time and it is expected that it will be announced whether or not the case will be accepted in February or March.
By Heather Clark
01/29/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – The city of New York, namely the administration for Mayor Bill DeBlasio, is continuing the fight to keep churches from meeting in public schools in the city.
As previously reported, the case of Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York has been circling through the court system for the past 17 years. It began in 1995, when Bronx Household of Faith submitted an application to rent a public school building for its worship services, but was denied by the Board of Education. The matter then went to court, which turned into an emotional roller coaster, resulting in both temporary victories and losses to both sides.
The Board of Education argued that allowing churches to use school facilities and to advertise their services amounted to a violation of the Establishment Clause in the United States Constitution. The Bronx Household of Faith, represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), pointed to the fact that religious student groups already use school rooms after hours for Bible reading and prayer.
The case went all the way up to the United Supreme Court, which declined to hear the matter. In 2012, however, U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Presha issued a permanent injunction, allowing the Bronx Household of Faith to continue to hold services in local public school buildings indefinitely. She stated that denial of the use of the building equated to an infringement of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
But the ruling was again appealed, and last April, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the Board of Education’s regulation barring churches from meeting in schools while allowing secular activities doesn’t violate the Constitution. The case was then again appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.