Council debates place of religion in schools

Religious groups are fighting for their right to worship in New York City public schools, but opponents say they don’t have a prayer.

 Churches and civil rights groups testified at a Council education hearing Thursday about whether religious services should be held in public schools.

Right now, about 160 congregations meet in public schools around the city, on the weekends and in gyms and auditoriums. But in June, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a controversial decision by the New York City Department of Education to prohibit the services.

 The Council is mulling a resolution that supports a state bill, which would give greater flexibility for school districts to allow church groups. Even if this passes, however, its ability to overrule the federal court decision would likely be challenged in court, New York Civil Liberties Union spokeswoman Jennifer Carnig said.

Congregations currently using public school space have until Feb. 12 to find another place of worship.
“Religious organizations should not be treated any differently from any other community organization,” city Comptroller John Liu said in a statement to the Council, comparing churches to other groups that use schools after hours, such as sports teams, community boards and cultural groups.

The NYCLU argued that services send the message that the government favors Christian churches over other faiths. “Turning our public schools into churches undermines the core American principle of separation of church and state,” NYCLU director Donna Lieberman said.

Councilman leads rally

Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera championed the city resolution. Cabrera is also pastor of New Life Outreach International church. He led a rally Sunday about the bill and was previously arrested during a similar protest. “This is the epitome of religious discrimination,” he said at the Sunday protest, as he pushed Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support the bill. 

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

MLB

Jets 2014 regular season schedule

The Jets will play three prime-time games — against the Bears, Patriots and Dolphins — as well as a CBS national game in Week 2 at Green Bay.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."