NY Senate Supports Churches' Use of Schools

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The New York Senate is standing with churches in their fight to continue meeting in public schools.

Lawmakers passed a bill Monday, sponsored by Sen. Martin J. Golden, R-Brooklyn, to reverse the New York City school district's ban on worship services inside its schools.

If this latest bill is not passed in the state House and signed by the governor, the city will evict churches from schools in less than a week.

"This is about equal access," Golden declared from the Senate floor.

City Councilman Fernando Cabrera has been an outspoken supporter of the churches.

"We expect it to pass," Cabrera said. "We have such overwhelming support at the state level and the city level. The only one who is not getting it is the mayor."

Opponents of the legislation suggested the bill was "flawed."

"It would open up the schools to anybody. It might include the Klu Klux Klan," the New York Times quoted Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan.

But the bill's supporters said churches pose no threat and are beneficial to the community.

"The fact of the matter is these are real lives that these institutions are helping and saving," Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, D-Queens, said. "All they are saying is, 'Give us the opportunity to help.'"

The city has told congregations that Sunday, Feb. 12, is the last day they can worship in its public schools.

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