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Religious Groups: NYC Suffering From An ‘Over-Separation’ Of Church And State

After This Weekend, Any School Being Used For Worship Must Be Vacated

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A ban on organized worship in New York City school buildings will take effect next week — a controversial change that could leave as many as 17,000 worshippers looking for a new place to pray.

More than a few of those people live in the Bronx, reports CBS 2’s Lou Young.

In a city seemingly full of churches a debate is raging over places where prayer might be off-limits.

Small congregations are howling over a rule to ban organized worship in city school buildings even when there are no students in them. It’s a case, they say, of over-separation of church and state.

“We’re renting an empty building. The school has a policy that if they have an activity on Sunday we get pre-empted. We understand that,” said Rev. Robert Hall of Bronx Household of Faith.

Reverend Hall is building his own church, but has rented space across the street at P.S 15 for Sunday worship until it’s finished. New city rules say he’ll have to find someplace else after this weekend. Civil libertarians say that’s as it should be.

“The New York City Department of Education has made the right decision in prohibiting churches from conducting religious services in public schools,” said Donna Lieberman of the N.Y. Civil Liberties Union.

Religious groups would still be allowed to rent schools for discussions and instruction, just not for worship services.

“When religious services/worship services are allowed to take place in our school buildings it gives the impression that the school endorses that religion,” Lieberman said.

Reverend Dimas Salaberios holds services in a housing project gymnasium every Sunday: a public building seemingly unaffected by the activity.

“For somebody to think that because you meet for an hour and half and say words about Jesus that your whole building becomes this consecrated place is the strangest thing,” Rev. Salaberios said.

This very American debate about separation of church and state seems especially ironic to Pastor Hall, whose congregation here is Protestant Congregationalist, which is essentially New England Puritan and he points out you really can’t get more American than that.

A bill has been introduced in Albany that would reverse the DOE’s decision, but it’s currently bottled up in committee.

Do you think the DOE is doing the right thing? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

  • jac

    Why are so many people so afraid of religion? Beyond imagination how it scares so many.

  • Fed Up

    Let’s see what happens when I rent the school for my Church of Satan services. I guarantee I won’t get all this media and community support. And that is just the point. Nobody can decide which religions are “good” and which are “bad,” so they all need to be kept out of public buildings.

    Religions milk money from their congregations. They don’t need cheap-o worship spaces like a public school (which, by the way, are generally off limits to private citizens and students. I tried to rent a room in a public school to host a one-day weekend science class for kids, and I was told I would need a $1,000,000 insurance policy!).

    There are a zillion churches all over NYC. Citizens can easily find many established places to worship. Their boo-hoo-hoo about the school use is a joke. You are free to worship any religion here–in a church! Go to a church! You know what they’re for? Religion! Leave my public school alone.

  • Jona Webster

    “The New York City Department of Education has made the right decision in prohibiting churches from conducting religious services in public schools” –
    10000000% agree!!!

    Hey you Talibangelists and religious zealots out there: There IS no such thing as an “over-separation of church and state”. There can’t be too much separation of religion and state. Only a definite clear cut between state and religion is what America needs. Your prayers and preachings neither belong into publicly founded institutions nor into politics at all.

    Keep your religion PRIVATE, in your churches, chapels and homes, and leave public schools and gymnasiums and stadiums alone. No prayer belongs in there, no preaching, no bible indoctrination classes.

    And yes I’m even against the permission they still give you to rent rooms in there for your bible studies.

  • Amanda Rivera

    For the last few years there have been at least two earthquakes a week through out the globe. Many have been devastating, bringing Tsunamis and fatalities.
    Add the unreasonable weather: countless tornadoes, and fatal storms. We are
    also in a “Depression!” Which the powers that be keep labeling a recession. Unemployment is off the hinges. There is no RE market, and many have lost their homes and many more are homeless. There are soup kitchens everywhere.
    The market is like the Coney coaster- up and down. You peeps believe there isn’t any such thing as “Divine Justice!” Think again. It isn’t going to get any better anytime soon till we turn from Godlessness. And yes the innocent have always suffered along with the guilty, witness- AIDS! Wake up…smokersodysseycom

    • Rodin

      Sicko / wacko!

      Free from religion, good without gØd!

  • The Realist

    Allowing religious institutions to use City-owned buildings means that the City would effectively ESTABLISH an Official Religion (and thus ban all non-official religions).

    Do we really want that?

  • Rodin

    There can never be enough separation of church and state or defenses against the pervasive intrusion of religion in politics, private and secular affairs.

    “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.” ~ GEORGE CARLIN

    • The Realist

      True. As soon as religion starts to control Government, Government will control religion.

  • Jen

    This makes me wonder what prompted the decision. Did a group ask to rent the building that was something other than Judeo-Christian? Perhaps a muslim group or something that the powers that be didn’t want to deal with?

  • Barre Flynn

    You would expect this when the Governor of NYS sleeps with a women who is not his wife. We will all pay for this because it sends the message that God is not to be respected. Big mistake. God will take his hands of restraint off of us and allow us to wallow in our own evil ways. This is the formula for destruction. So put on your seat belts and get ready for the ride of your life.

    • Rodin

      These same promoters of gØdly myths of vengeance, punishment and retribution by their loving gØds are the same whose goØds created man with a free will but who now “will take his hands of restraint off of us,” ALL of us collectively guilty, and “allow us to wallow in our own evil ways.”

      Make up your mind. “This is the formula for” irrational NONSENSE.

    • harriet

      Hey troll, that was so two governor’s ago, Gov. Cuomo isn’t even married.

      • Rodin

        I think he’s talking about Cuomo and Sandra Lee who are “living in sin” though it makes no difference to these prophets of doom, fire and brimstone.

  • truth

    Its freedom of religion not from religion. If they wanted to teach about being gay thats ok,just don’t worship God.What ever happened to morales in this country. The founding fathers would be ashamed of us

    • The Realist

      By definition, freedom OF religion must also include freedom FROM religion. Otherwise, everybody would be legally required to choose a religion and could be punished for not choosing something from the official list.

      • Rodin

        I’m a very religious Atheist. Religion, Latin: re legio, re-read, “to go back to the source.”

        I went back to the source and found no gØd there, just ignorance > fear > superstition.

        I am now free from religion and good without gØd.

    • harriet

      the only thing the founding fathers would be ashamed of us for is the epic failure of the schools/society to teach the citizens its history and core values, which simply means no religion in public institutions like schools.

      • truth

        They lead every meeting with prayer and accepted every religion. Get your facts strait

  • Sgeo

    Question: Can any group rent such a room for any purpose? Or are there restrictions? Would any religion, or even a fake religion like Pastafarianism, be able to rent a room? If Pastafarians can’t rent the room, why should Christians be able to? On the other hand, if equal access is available to all, I don’t see the problem

    • herreit

      It’s a total ban on all religions, and watch out the fsm may noodle you for the “fake” comment. BTW, there is caselaw with guidelines for determining what constitutes a religion but i have no idea where pastafarianism falls in NYS.

  • Christie Rainwater

    I think it’s sad that a group that runs our education system would make such a poor, uneducated decision. It’s like they have nothing better to do then cause issue. In addition, I would think that removing the rental income could have a negative effect on the education system itself! They are not having church during school… just using the building. It is clear they do not understand separation between church and state.

  • GeorgeQ

    These ACLU people, who represent the elite and the super rich, keep trying to tell the poor what they can’t have. The nerve of them! Leave these poor churches alone.

    • Ron KnewyawkCity

      Huh? I’m poor, and I fully support the ACLU and heir decision to actually make an effort to separate church from state in this country. How did this become a class war? This is about dong what’s right, and ridding the country of the Cancer that is religion.

      This is a small start, but it’s definitely a good one.

  • kdka radio pittsburgh

    Coloreds have no place in a civilized society.

  • marty griffin

    Coloreds have no place in a civilized society.

  • John McQuillan

    While I do not believe in organized religion, I do think these people should have safe place to meet. The article says they pay rent and probably don’t tear the place up. They might even leave it in better shape than they found it, Say that about the lovely little darlings that attend class there.

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