In a move some are calling an “end-run around the separation of church and state,” the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund has authored a bill that would force New York City public schools to allow religious services on their premises. Sock-puppeting for the ADF is GOP Sen. Martin Golden.
Legislation pending in the Senate and Assembly would overturn the city’s policy banning churches and other religious groups from using school buildings for worship services and would allow them whenever they’re “deemed not disruptive of normal school operations.” “It is an end around,” City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told the Daily News yesterday. Walcott also raised alarms about the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based religious organization that fought unsuccessfully in court to overturn the city’s ban and has worked with lawmakers on the legislation.
The ADF, according to its website, opposes legalized abortion and has fought against the spread of gay marriage and what it deemed the “homosexual agenda.” Walcott said the group’s history is “not what we’re about as far as equal rights and equal opportunity.” Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn), a sponsor of the bill, defended the legislation and downplayed the ADF’s role, saying they were one of many groups that had pushed for its passage. Golden conceded, though, that a lawyer for the group did help his staff craft portions of the bill. The legislation could be approved as early as next week, he added.
As I reported here two week ago, also in this fight is the Family Research Council, who says that New York City is oppressing religious liberty by adhering to a recent federal appeals court ruling that bans churches from renting or having free access to public school property. That decision was refused review by the U.S. Supreme Court.