Published: Yesterday (2/25/12) NEW YORK (AP) – (Article by Tom Hays) “Churches won back the right to hold services in the city’s public schools when a federal judge issued an injunction Friday against its no-worship policy. The city said it would immediately appeal, guaranteeing that a case that has gone back and forth for 17 years will continue. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled in Manhattan that a tiny evangelical Christian church, the Bronx Household of Faith, has a good chance of ultimately winning its lawsuit claiming the policy violates freedom of religion. City lawyers had argued that the church’s use of a public grade school ran afoul of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, the prohibition against governmental endorsement of religion. But the judge said, “In this court’s view, losing one’s right to exercise freely and fully his or her religious beliefs is a greater threat to our democratic society than a misperceived violation of the Establishment Clause.”
Many persons are unaware of the “crusade” by the City of New York to end the use of empty school facilities by churches. Originally the US Supreme Court declined to hear this case that began with a US Circuit ruling that the no-worship policy was acceptable. The churches, of course, were appealing.
What disturbs me as a person who has been a diligent student of US history is the consistent misinterpretation of the First Amendment prohibition on the establishment of religion. Anyone who has studied the original documents and the historical setting of those amendments will know that what the Founding Fathers were guarding against a single church (such as the Church of England) becoming the established church of the nation. It was never intended to drive the practice and expression of religion as a part of public life.
It is only in the last century that a portion of the American culture that embraces a world view that spirituality is an unnecessary part of human life and the portrays churches as an enemy to the common good has been able to manipulate the judicial system into supporting their peculiar and impoverished world view. The legislative branch at all levels of government (i.e., the representatives of the people) and the executive branch (including the present one) has resolutely worked against such a position.
The church is not the enemy. And are not the militant proponents of a totally secularized society as much the enemies of the freedom of speech as religionists who seek to impose their understanding of morality via law? I will have more to say about this in future.