Supreme Court Allows Ban on Church Services in School

By:  Bruce Walker
12/07/2011
       
Supreme Court Allows Ban on Church Services in School

The City of New York Department of Education allows different sorts of groups to use school facilities for after-school activities. But is God allowed in any of those activities? Is God allowed at all on the campuses of New York City schools?

The Bronx Household of Faith outgrew its meeting places in private homes. It applied, in 1994, for the right to meet in Public School 15 in the Bronx for Sunday services. This started a long legal battle with the city, which just ended when the Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions that had upheld the city of New York’s ban on the evangelical congregation using the school.

Ten years ago, it seemed the organization would win its fight. In a case in the Medford, New York School System, the Good News Club had won the right to use space in public school for after-hours activities even though prayer, Bible lessons, and scripture reading were included in those activities.

The Bronx Household of Faith could also take some heart from the fact that it was not the only religious organization that had been using school facilities. An estimated 60 churches in 2009 were using school facilities, and that number was growing. The city estimates that in the last school year 160 congregations used schools to meet. This is not free:

The City of New York Department of Education allows different sorts of groups to use school facilities for after-school activities. But is God allowed in any of those activities? Is God allowed at all on the campuses of New York City schools?

The Bronx Household of Faith outgrew its meeting places in private homes. It applied, in 1994, for the right to meet in Public School 15 in the Bronx for Sunday services. This started a long legal battle with the city, which just ended when the Supreme Court declined to review lower court decisions that had upheld the city of New York’s ban on the evangelical congregation using the school.

Ten years ago, it seemed the organization would win its fight. In a case in the Medford, New York School System, the Good News Club had won the right to use space in public school for after-hours activities even though prayer, Bible lessons, and scripture reading were included in those activities.

The Bronx Household of Faith could also take some heart from the fact that it was not the only religious organization that had been using school facilities. An estimated 60 churches in 2009 were using school facilities, and that number was growing. The city estimates that in the last school year 160 congregations used schools to meet. This is not free:

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