Churches Fight On to Hold Services in NYC Schools

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Churches in New York City brought their case to court Friday, fighting for the right to use public schools for Sunday services.

Pastor Dimas Salaberrios, with Infinity Church in Bronx, New York, is one of many pastors fighting for the right to hold services in public schools in the city.
 
"There's so much prayer that's going forward. There's so many people joining us in the fight," Dimas told CBN News.

Sixteen years ago, the Bronx Household of Faith sued New York City over a school policy preventing churches from holding worship services in public schools.

In December 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the case. The city declared victory, and in February the NYC Department of Education evicted more than 60 congregations.

But after a federal injunction, the churches were allowed to return to the school buildings until June.

"This is the reason why right now houses of worship are allowed to meet in the public schools, but this is a temporary patch," New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera said.

Cabrera is working on a permanent solution. He has measures before the New York city council, the state House, and the state Senate. 

"I've received green light from my speaker that he's going to allow the vote to come to the floor," Cabrera said.

"We're looking forward to passing it in the city council to send a very loud message to the state legislators that the city of New York of 9 million people that live here are in full support of this legislation," he said.

Many observers have been wondering why New York City would even want to force churches out of public schools.

Pastor Dimas believes homosexual activists are behind the push. He said leaders from the gay community revealed their opposition during a hearing at a meeting at city hall.

"It was quite evident that the LGBT community stood up and said you guys are preaching a doctrine that's against gay marriage and that's why we're coming against you guys," Dimas explained. "We don't want you to have churches in schools. We're coming against you."

Meanwhile, churches that hold services in public schools and community centers all across New York City say the ministry they offer is changing lives. They are prepared to continue the fight.

"We closed down the gangs in that area. We shut down drug operations. God is moving in the Bronx, he's moving through Infinity Church," Dimas said.

"It's just great people that love Jesus and they just have wild radical faith to see God do some amazing things," he said.

Dimas said he hope that includes victory for religious liberty, too.

"Our hope and our prayer is that this would come to some permanent solution before the end of June so it doesn't have to be a court battle," he said.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.