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NYC Churches Get Schooled, Again

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 02, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Bronx Household of Faith can meet in a New York City school for now.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court injunction allowing churches to resume holding worship services in New York City public schools this week. The appellate court, however, urged the district court to expedite the case and reach a decision before mid-June, reports The Washington Post.

Last June, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a New York City Department of Education rule prohibiting the use of schools for "religious services or religious instruction" did not constitute viewpoint discrimination because banning church services in public schools was not an effort to exclude expressions of religious points of view or of religious devotion. In December, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Originally, the Supreme Court denial meant that more than 40 groups that hold their weekly worship services in the school had to find new locations by February 12, but the Bronx Household of Faith, (the lead plaintiff), refused to accept the Supreme Court's rejection as a final answer.

The group continued pressing the 17-year-old dispute, claiming that some of the issues in the case had been insufficiently considered. In February, District Judge Loretta Preska issued an injunction to delay enforcement of the rule, which the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, according to The New York Times.

Though New York City lawyers claim that the church's use of a public school violates the Establishment Clause, Judge Preska ruled that "losing one's right to exercise freely and fully his or her religious beliefs is a greater threat to our democratic society than a misperceived violation of the Establishment Clause," reports ABC News.

Do you think the Bronx Household of Faith will finally win this battle, or will the City prevail with its Establishment Clause argument?

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