It’s not unusual for churches to rent school auditoriums for worship services. The Bronx Household of Faith just wants the same rights other community groups have to assemble in public schools during off hours. But school officials who preside over the New York borough are allegedly discriminating against the group because it would use the facility for religious services, the church claims.
The New York City Department of Education consistently rejected Bronx Household’s request to meet at a school building for weekend services until a federal district court in 2002 issued an injunction prohibiting the department from keeping churches out. Now the U.S. Supreme Court may decide the matter. It’s a case that could have far-reaching ramifications for churches across the nation that wish to hold meetings in public schools.
“The government cannot target religious services for exclusion from public buildings when they are open to other similar types of meetings,” says Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has definitively ruled that the government cannot limit access to generally available public spaces merely because government officials disapprove of a form of expression. Equal access means equal access, and that includes religious services.”