Even though thousands of ordinary citizens protested in support of schools renting to houses of worship, it looks as if their eviction is imminent due to the wishes of Bloomberg and DOE Chancellor Walcott. Despotism is alive and well in NYC. Does anyone needs any additional proof that Chancellor Walcott’s hand on prayer session on Palm Sunday, after his appointed as Chancellor, was nothing more than a public relation stunt to fool the natives?
Have any incidents been reported were houses of worships abused their option to rent space in public schools? Do any of these houses of worship conduct social services that the fat cats at the DOE want to take over and profit from? Should we expect to see Walcott or maybe even Eve Moskowitz on the ballot for Mayor to continue the privatization of the NYC school system for the profit of large corporations after Bloomberg is gone?
I personally consider this decision against the voices of the community and elected officials representing the communities most affected by this decision, an insult to our democratic system.
At the very least we are throwing our at risk youth into the hands of gangs. Once the gangs are done praying on them, will hand them over to our shelter or prison system for a new round of fat contracts to make sure society is further weighed down with more taxes and more debt. Let our youth hear the Ten Commandments. Let them have positive role models. We should be helping them make the right decision when confronted with the opportunity to make the wrong one.
I hope the public remembers next election day!
Mayor Bloomberg Education Policy will Evict Houses of Worship this Sunday, February 12, 2012
WHO: Council Member Fernando Cabrera
WHAT: Update on the eviction of houses of worship wishing to rent empty spaces in public schools
WHEN: February 10, 2012
WHERE: New York, NY
NEW YORK, NY — Following a June decision by the 2nd Circuit Federal Court of Appeals to grant the New York City Department of Education (DOE) discretion in excluding houses of worship from renting empty spaces in New York City school buildings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Dennis Walcott have decided to enforce a policy that will evict houses of worship tomorrow.
After the announcement of the eviction, Council Member Cabrera and religious leaders from across the City began to mobilize. Numerous protests and demonstrations have taken place, including some where City Council Member Cabrera along with pastors and congregants have been arrested. Proponents of the City’s policy, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, have argued that renting to houses of worship violates the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, and that the 2nd Circuit’s ruling mandates the New York City eviction. Religious leaders and congregants battling the policy argue that enforcement of this policy is discriminatory and that only a misreading of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution would lead one to believe that renting spaces in public schools is in violation of the Establishment Clause.
“The writers of our Constitution wrote the Establishment Clause into the First Amendment for a reason,” said Council Member Cabrera. “I respect that. We all respect that. But allowing houses of worship to meet and conduct activities central to their purpose, is not establishing religion.” He continued, “Accommodation is not establishment, and the 2nd Circuit’s ruling last June also didn’t say this eviction was necessary. The 2nd Circuit simply said the DOE could use its discretion in renting to religious groups.” He continued, “If the City allowed a Catholic Pope to host prayer in Central Park, would the City be accused of establishing religion? Of course not.”
Moreover, this policy primarily hurts low-income, minority communities. “It is claimed these small houses of worship are recruiting and evangelizing impressionable children. Yet, the schools are rented only when they are empty. The houses of worship use the spaces when classes are not in session. But even so, what more recruitment and evangelization than what gangs do in the neighborhoods these small houses of worship serve? ” Council Member Cabrera said referring to those houses of worship that meet in high-crime areas. “These small houses of worship have changed crime trends in entire communities.”
Resolution 1155, which urges the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to sign legislation that would disallow New York City’s ban on worship, has been introduced by Council Member Cabrera and heard in the City Council. However, despite having overwhelming support the resolution has not moved. Resolution 1155 refers to New York State Assembly bill A8800-A introduced by Assemblyman Nelson Castro (D-Bronx) and New York State Senate bill S6087-A introduced by Senator Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn). New York State Senate bill S6087-A passed on Monday (Feb. 6) with a bi-partisan vote of 55-7.
The fight to allow these 60 or so fledgling houses of worship to continue to rent from schools is reaching a critical stage.Reverend Pastor William Devlin, senior minister at Iglesia Biblica de Manhattan/Manhattan Bible Church, is on the 25th day of a water-only fast. He began the fast at midnight January 17, 2012 and states that he will continue his hunger strike until Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott reverse their decision on evicting houses of worship from education buildings this Sunday. The eviction of churches in New York City has made international news and has been called "religious intolerance" and discrimination, because it strikes down equal access to those who help the poor communities the most.
Devlin stated, "The purpose of this water-only 40 day fast is to bring attention to the hard-heartedness of our Mayor and Chancellor. My fast is to ask God to soften the hearts of Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Walcott. The churches that these men are making homeless are the salt and light of the poor communities they serve.”
Many have publically supported the cause, including,
· Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
· New York City Comptroller John C. Liu
· 35 City Council Members who are signed-on to Resolution 1155
· 70 Co-Sponsors in the New York State Assembly who are signed-on to A8800-A
· 55 New York State Senators who voted in favor of S6087-A
· Teamsters Joint Council No. 16 (Union)
· MSNBC’s Martin Bashir
· WMCA 570AM in New York City
· International Center for Conservative Judaism
· New York Council of Churches
· Christ Tabernacle of Queens
· The Korean Council of Churches
“We are reaching a critical point,” said Council Member Cabrera “but the battle will go on far beyond February 12 if it needs to, court action included.”