NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Religious leaders and elected officials joined a massive march to protest the ban on religious gatherings in public schools.

An estimated 17,000 worshipers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall Sunday to protest the Appeals Court decision to ban religious services from public schools to avoid the appearance of government endorsement of particular faiths.

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“Freedom to worship, that’s what we want,” they chanted.

On December 5, the City announced congregations would have to stop using public schools for services as of February 12.

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“We are here to tell Mayor Bloomberg, I mean we are going to have 60 churches homeless and that’s not Christ-like,” said Bronx Pastor Sal Sabino of the Heavenly Region Christian Center.

“The church has been notoriously persecuted since its inception so I’m not surprised but we’re not going to stay quiet we’re going to speak out and say this is what the foundation of America is built upon,” said Roseann Kytka of Ascencion Presbyterian Church, which meets at P.S. 101 in Forest Hills.

Bills are pending in the State Legislature and City Council that would reverse the ban.

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