Church leaders in New York City have been embroiled in an ongoing fight with the Department of Education over their eviction from public school buildings that took effect on Feb. 12. In recent days, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the government's decision to kick churches out and to forbid them from renting public school buildings for worship purposes. But it seems, just days after the ban took effect, that that the tide -- at least temporarily -- has turned to the churches' favor.
In a press release, NYC Council-member Fernando Cabrera announced that the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal organization that has defended one of the churches seeking to overturn the ban, has won a court order. The victory will allow houses of worship to continue using the buildings for the next 10 days while the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York further reviews the case.
While this is a temporary fix, Cabrera and other state lawmakers have been working to push through a permanent law in the state legislature that would legally prevent the city from diminishing church rights when it comes to renting public buildings.
"Now that the courts have spoken up on the side of fairness, I call on the New York State Legislature and Speaker Sheldon Silver to move forward with bills that would rapidly solve this issue," Cabrera said in the statement.
He went on to call the court order a "fantastic victory" that will help ease the fear present among church leaders who are frantically seeking a place to worship since being rendered homeless.
ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence called the court order "a message of hope for foundational freedoms in New York City."
"The courts have consistently ruled that the Constitution does not require New York City to ban religious worship services, so the city or the state legislature is free to repeal the policy," Lorence continued.
Over the weekend, Bloomberg defended the ban, saying, "Someday the religion that the state picks as the ‘state religion’ might not be yours. The way to solve that is to not have a state religion."