Court: NYC Schools Allowed to Ban Worship Services

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New York City officials say churches that meet in public schools must leave by the end of the school year.

The decision comes after the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled 2-1 Thursday that churches meeting in schools are unconstitutionally converting the schools into state-sponsored Christian churches.

The justices wrote that it is "reasonable for the board to fear that allowing schools to be converted into churches ... might foster an excessive government entanglement with religion that advances religion."

Could this case set a precedent for more churches being kicked out of public buildings? Tom McClusky, with the Family Research Council, spoke with CBN News about the impact this decision could have.

Thursday's ruling is the latest in a string of court battles for the Bronx Household of Faith church. In 1994, New York City Board of Education rejected the church's application to rent a public school building for worship services.

Judge John Walker, the dissenting justice in Thursday's ruling, said the ban on religious services violates the First Amendment's free speech clause.

"I disagree and conclude that the Board's discrimination against Bronx Household is based on its religious viewpoint," he wrote. 

Meanwhile, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Christian legal group representing the Bronx church, says it will appeal the court's ruling.

"Religious groups, including churches, shouldn't be discriminated against simply because they want to rent a public building just like other groups can," ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence said.

"The idea that people of faith may be singled out for discrimination is flagrantly contrary to the U.S. Constitution," he added. "The 2nd Circuit greatly erred by not putting an end to the board's continued defiance of the First Amendment."

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