Here is the latest related to the debate raging over houses of worship and their right to rent space from public schools and or other city owned properties. Besides my past rants on the topic, it seems as if MANY Bronx residents and MANY elected officials agree that evicting these houses of worship is a real threat to the community.
From the list of elected officials below who support the houses of worship, I want to point out that it's not just the standard conservative “church” crew of elected officials that are making the stance against these evictions. Many of the more “liberal” elected officials like Council member Maria de Carmen Arroyo and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio ,who in the past have been steadfast supporters on “liberal” issues like marriage equality, also support the houses of worship in their quest to not be evicted based on esoteric philosophical debates or perceived threats. When local elected officials form conservative and liberal ideologies all agree on a specific issue, I think it’s clear that there position has merit. The Bronx public and our elected officials have spoken. If this is a democracy they should be listened to.
I am curious how Chancellor Walcott forgot about his "hands on" prayer service in the Bronx when he first becomes NYC School Chancellor which took place on PALM SUNDAY. Why has our self proclaimed messiah abandoned us in our time of need? I am sure we will see our present Chancellor employed by Murdock in some capacity much like our past Chancellor is presently employed by Murdock. That is, of coarse contingent on Walcott’s success on his helping to privatize our school system so Murdock and his associates can reap the benefits. In addition, I am sure the elected officials on the list below are prime candidates for frivolous press attacks by Murdock’s daily NYC rag; AKA the New York Post.
More on Former NYC School Chancellor Joel Klein and Rupert Murdock
WHO: New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Religious Leaders and Congregants
WHAT: Over 40 Pastors and Congregants were arrested today during a Civil Disobedience demonstration
held during the Mayor’s State of the City Address. The Prayer Rally was organized by City
Religious Leaders to Oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s Decision to Evict Houses of Worship from |
WHEN: Thursday January 12, 2012 12:00PM -2:00PM EST
WHERE: Morris High School, 1100 Boston Rd. (at corner of 167th St.), Bronx, New York
NEW YORK — Over 40 pastors and congregants were arrested today during a Civil Disobedience demonstration during the Mayor’s State of the City Address, according the Bronx NYPD representatives. The Prayer Rally was organized by City Religious Leaders and New York City Council Member (“CM”) Fernando Cabrera. The rally received public support from some NYS Senators, NYS Assembly Members and NYC Council Members. Present were: CM Letitia James, CM Jumaane Williams, CM Ydanis Rodriguez, CM Robert Jackson, CM David Greenfield, CM Maria del Carmen Arroyo, CM Joel Rivera, NYC Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, NYS Assembly Member (“AM”) Nelson Castro, NYS AM Marcos Crespo and NYS Senator Ruben Diaz.
Pastors and Elected Officials came together at 12:00PM to speak against the Mayor’s discriminatory decision to evict Houses of Worship from public schools, after Elected Officials spoke; Religious Leaders lead a crowd of 300 in prayer and song. At approximately 12:45PM members of the crowd began approaching the entrance of Morris High School to kneel in prayer, and were arrested by the New York Police Department (NYPD). Approximately 45 individuals, in groups of 5-8, were arrested throughout the demonstration. The NYPD behaved courteously to the protestors.
“The theme of the protest was peaceful. We are here to make a statement. We have approached the Mayor’s Office to try to come to an agreement on this policy and we are open to negotiations,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “The eviction of Houses of Worship from schools, especially from poor communities, is nothing but detrimental to the communities they serve. Houses of Worship bring so many tangible and intangible benefits to communities, that we just don’t understand the logic behind this policy.”
Bills have been introduced in the NYS Assembly (#A8800) and the NYS Senate (#S6087) that would change State Law to allow worship services in schools, and a resolution (#1155) supporting these bills has a super-majority of co-cosponsors (35) in the NYC Council.
Background: (from 1/9/2012 Media Advisory)
“Houses of worship throughout the city consider this policy to be nothing short of discrimination, and we will make that known on Thursday,” said Cabrera. “I applaud the New York City Housing Authority’s efforts to work with religious groups that meet in their spaces, but the Department of Education needs to follow suit.”
Cabrera explained that the city is in perilous economic times and that houses of worship provide social services that take the burden off the city and its taxpayers.
“Treating houses of worship equally with other community groups helps our communities,” said Cabrera. “Evicting them hurts people and neighborhoods by denying them the social and spiritual services they desperately need, which in my district includes tutoring services, soup kitchens, and more. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott need to listen to what the citizens of this city want.”
The rally comes on the heels of the first big victory for equal access in New York City this year. Following a series of rallies and demonstrations organized by Pastor Dimas Salaberrios and other religious leaders (including a rally on Thursday January 5th where Council Member Fernando Cabrera, Pastor Dimas Salaberrios, Pastor Bill Devlin and Pastor Michael Carrion were arrested along with three congregants): the New York City Housing Authority relented from its efforts to evict at least five churches meeting for worship services in the community centers of the city’s public housing properties. Pastor Joe Fletcher of Bronx Bible Church and Pastor Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity New York Church received calls from Housing Authority officials who told the pastors that the city is willing to sign long-term agreements so the churches can continue conducting their services in the projects.
“Churches and other religious groups should be able to meet in public buildings on the same terms as other community groups,” said Lorence. “These churches offer the people in hurting communities hope and help for their daily needs. To drive out the churches based on a discredited, extreme notion of ‘separation of church and state’ benefits no one and harms people who need help most.”
In December, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in the Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York case, the Housing Authority sought to expand the ban on worship services from the city’s public schools to include the community centers at public housing developments. ADF attorneys explained the relevant constitutional law to the Housing Authority and warned of legal action if it did not allow the churches to keep meeting.