WHO: New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera and Religious Leaders including Alliance
Defense Fund Senior Counsel
WHAT: Prayer Rally Opposing Mayor’s Decision to Evict Houses of Worship from Public Schools.
Faith leaders to Bloomberg: “Don’t leave churches homeless; stand for equal access, religious
liberty.” Discriminatory policies will eject churches from communities citywide by Feb. 12,
growing coalition continues protests.
WHEN: Thursday January 12, 2012 12:00PM EST
WHERE: Morris High School, 1100 Boston Rd. (at corner of 167th St.), Bronx, New York
NEW YORK — New York City Council Member Fernando Cabrera and Religious Leaders including Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence will be available for media interviews Thursday following a rally organized to protest Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to evict houses of worship from public schools. The rally is open to the public.
“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 DimasSalaberrios 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.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.