December 13, 2011
Supreme Court Kicks Churches Out of NYC Schools- Is Yours Next?
Does the court's ruling signal the end of churches meeting in public schools?
Last week the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by an evangelical church regarding the ban against churches using public schools in New York City. The court's refusal to hear the case allows a lower court ruling to stand which means 60 churches will soon need to find new places to gather for worship.
One of those churches is Trinity Grace Church Brooklyn led by pastor Caleb Clardy. He has written an article for This Is Our City, a project with Christianity Today. Clardy reflects on the court's decision, and how churches ought to respond to the ruling.
Most troubling to Clardy is the disregard for local officials' relationship with the church. He points out that two other groups, a basketball league and a farmers' market, also use the school property on Sunday mornings. His church has an excellent relationship with both groups as well as school officials. Clardy writes:
Our country was founded on the right of its citizenry to make free and informed decisions. Yet it seems that more and more decisions of conscience are being made for us by high-level policymakers and by judicial fiat. Is this what we actually want for our city, and our nation? If MS 51 can choose to host the basketball league and the farmers' market and the theatre troupe and the voting stations, why can't they choose to host the church as well? I haven't yet heard a compelling answer to that question.
Meetings spaces are difficult to find in New York City, and those that are available are often prohibitively expensive for churches. Using public schools, an option that has become popular throughout the country, has been a win-win for churches and school districts. Churches needs the space, and school districts need the revenue. But does the ruling in NYC signal the beginning of the end for churches renting public schools? Are you concerned that your church may be the next one booted from a school?
Please read Caleb Clardy's thoughtful article on This Is Our City's website and then share your thoughts here.