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U.S. DOJ: N.Y. churches entitled to equal treatment by schools

Department of Justice files second brief in support of ADF position regarding church use of public buildings

NEW YORK — The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in support of churches seeking to rent public buildings on the same terms and conditions as other community groups.  The brief is the second one DOJ officials have filed in favor of the Bronx Household of Faith, a New York church which has been denied the right to rent space in a school building for more than 10 years.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence.  “The government has no right to prohibit a religious group from meeting in a public building while at the same time allowing access to non-religious community groups.  We are pleased that the Department of Justice agrees and appreciate the brief they submitted to the court in favor of our client’s constitutional rights.”

For more than a decade, the Board of Education of the City of New York has fought to prevent the Bronx Household of Faith from renting public school property for Sunday meetings.

In November 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a permanent injunction against the board, requiring it to rent space to the Bronx Household of Faith as it would to any non-religious group.  The board appealed the court’s decision.

“Despite multiple court rulings in favor of Bronx Household of Faith, the Board of Education is continuing to place unconstitutional restrictions on religious groups wishing to meet in public buildings,” said Lorence. “We hope that the brief filed today by the Department of Justice will help to finally bring an end to more than a decade of discrimination suffered by religious groups at the hands of the New York Board of Education.”

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.