April 23, 2012 Print

NYC Churches March for Freedom

by Karla Dial

Hundreds of churchgoers in New York City braved a gullywasher of a rainstorm Sunday, marching across the Brooklyn Bridge to urge the New York Legislature to pass a bill guaranteeing religious freedom.

A8800-A and S6087-A are a pair of bills currently pending in Albany that would amend state law to allow churches to meet in public schools. New York City congregations have been fighting to do so for years, but city officials evicted approximately 60 of them in February. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is allowing them to continue meeting in schools through the end of the spring semester as it considers their case, but state legislation would end the matter decisively.

“We’re still waiting for Speaker (Sheldon) Silver to allow it to come to vote. We know that we have the votes,” said New York City Assemblyman Fernando Cabrera, one of the pastors involved with the march. “We’re not going away. We are going to continue to fight this fight to the very end.”

State Sen. Martin Golden, sponsor of S6087-A, agreed.

“”It is only sensible that religious institutions, holding services open to the public, be allowed to do so in public school buildings,” he said. “Organizations based on faith deserve the same rights as all other groups, and because of their beliefs, should not be held to a different standard. These misguided policies that have been put into place do nothing more than detract from the right to worship.”

Read the 2nd Circuit’s opinion allowing the churches to remain in public school buildings for the time being.

Read New York S6087-A.