“Most New Yorkers probably don’t realize that, right now, about 160 New York City schools are doubling as churches. I’m not talking about a religious after school club or bible study group. These churches use the same public space, at the same time, in the same school each and every week for free, or just the cost of custodial fees. Even worse, some are using taxpayer-subsidized space to preach hatred of homosexuals and people of other faiths. What’s more, the state legislation in both the Assembly and the Senate is so broad it would ‘prohibit the adoption of restrictions to exclude or limit speech during non-school hours, including speech that expresses religious conduct or viewpoints.’
“What does that mean? It means the Department of Education wouldn’t be allowed to turn away any groups at all, religious or otherwise – not even the Ku Klux Klan or a pornography club could be denied. Freedom of religion and the separation of church and state are unique and critical elements of our democracy. Nowhere in America is that wall more apparent or important than in 21st century New York, a city more culturally, ethnically, and religiously diverse than any in history.” – NYC Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, via press release.
Today the NYC Council will consider a resolution endorsing the above-mentioned state bill that would allow religious services in NYC public schools despite a recent federal appeals court ruling which banned churches from renting or having free access to public schools. Last week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the appeals court decision. At least 35 NYC Council members have cosponsored the resolution.
NOTE: Lappin is the councilwoman for my Upper East Side district.