New York City churches meeting in the city’s schools have won a major victory over the board of education, as a judge ruled that all congregations impacted by her injunction barring the city from evicting churches are covered by the verdict — and not just the main congregation named in the suit. Moreover, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska (photo) ruled on February 24 that the churches can continue meeting in the schools as the case moves through the courts, instead of just for the next week — unless the city succeeds in getting a higher court to overrule her decision.
As previously reported in The New American, Preska had originally granted dozens of churches meeting on Sundays in empty New York City school buildings a 10-day reprieve after city officials had given the congregations a final eviction notice, claiming they did not feel comfortable with religious meetings in school space. Preska overruled the church ban, finding that congregations affected by it had “demonstrated irreparable harm and a likelihood of success on the merits of their Free Exercise and Establishment Clause claims.”
But a day later an appeals court ruled that the restraining order against the city applied only to the Bronx Household of Faith, the primary church named in the lawsuit, leaving all other churches impacted by the ban scrambling for alternative worship sites — or suspending services altogether.
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