Separate Public Schools From Churches Says NY Times

In today’s paper, the NY Times called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to veto legislation allowing NYC public schools to let religious organizations to hold worship services on weekends.

The Times opines, “permitting religious services in schools is significantly different. “A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church,” [Federal District Court] Judge Leval wrote. Churches “tend to dominate the schools on the day they use them,” he noted, leading to confusion for children who might believe their school was also a church. The city was also worried that letting the congregation use the school at a subsidized rental rate amounted to public support of religion in violation of the First Amendment.”

The Times ended their OpEd by lecturing the 35 City Council Members supporting a reversal of the ban for playing “politics on the separation of church and state line.”

The Times OpEd is way off-base. If a public school becomes an illegal church when worship services are held, then countless residences across the city and state become illegal churches whenever residents tune into televised worship services. But no one believes that and certainly no child believes that his/her home is a church because grandma or dad watch worship services on TV every Sunday. 

The Times’ allies embarassed themselves at today’s City Council hearing on Resolution 1155 by falsely claiming the ban is appropriate because many of the Christian evangelical churches that rent public schools are homophobic and are part of a campaign to turn every public school into a Christian outpost. The City Council Members (i.e., Dromm and Lappin) who made these assertions are the ones who discredited of themselves, not CM Fernando Cabrera and his allies.
The Council hearing was very well attended and required two overflow rooms. One young man drove all night from Ohio to testify at the hearing. [Pastor Dimas Salaberrios, Bronx Household of Faith Church, offered the young man overnight shelter.]
Governor Cuomo should approve the Golden-Castro legislation, if and when it comes to his desk.
Update: Sen. Golden’s bill S.6087-A is expected to come to a Senate floor vote on Monday, February 6.

Related post: “Bloomberg’s Advancing Secularism

Is the NY Times right or wrong? Leave your comment below.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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