Churches in New York have been given another ten days before they will be turned out from the public schools where many have been holding their worship services. They won a ten-day injunction to try and make their arguments in court that the statute turning them out of the schools violates the free exercise of religion clause in the First Amendment.
According to GayCityNews “US District Court Judge Loretta A. Preska, who had earlier decided in favor of the churches only to be overridden by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, is expected to rule on the claim during the ten-day period.”
These churches have been represented in court by the Alliance Defense Fund, an extremely anti-gay litigation group. The city’s ban on public school space being rented to churches had been on hold since 2001. Since then, 160 churches have taken up residence in schools for their services, often renting that space for as little as $12.
The ADF’s Jordan Lorence stated that “The court’s order is a message of hope for fundamental freedoms in New York City; because it means that, for the time being, the city must welcome churches as it does other groups.”
It would be nice to know exactly how this ban prevents the free exercise of religion since these churches could find other accommodations. Of course, it is possible that one of the tenants of their religion is that they must hold their services in a public educational space, and that would mean that the law was infringing on their free exercise of religion.