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Free at last

After 10-year battle, ADF attorneys secure permanent injunction against NY Board of Education for Bronx church using school for meeting place

NEW YORK - A federal district court granted the request of Alliance Defense Fund attorneys today and issued a permanent injunction against the Board of Education of the City of New York, barring them from refusing to rent space at a public school to a Bronx church for Sunday morning worship meetings.

"People of faith ought to be able to rent and use public school facilities just like everyone else," said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence.  "It's a simple, common sense principle that took over a decade and multiple court rulings for the New York City school board to understand."

In the opinion issued today by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Loretta Preska rebuffed the claim of the school board that the church's use of a public school facility for Sunday worship meetings violates the Establishment Clause.  She also noted that the board's position that its policy against the church "does not amount to unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination is astonishing in light of the Supreme Court's clear holding in Good News Club."

In the 2001 case Good News Club v. Milford Central School, in which ADF played a critical role, a school denied a Bible club access to school property after hours.  In that case, the Supreme Court declared the school's policy and actions unconstitutional.

"Almost everyone in America but the public school system of New York City understands that the government doesn't endorse everything it allows," Lorence explained.  "This is the biggest victory in two decades for churches that simply want the same access to public facilities that other organizations have."

In May, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in support of the church and ADF's position in the case.

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.