New York City schools can now legally ban churches from holding services in buildings outside of school hours. A 2-1 decision in the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals said that a policy of prohibiting churches from gathering in schools “was consistent with its constitutional duties.”
According to the New York Times, the new policy will allow religious and community organizations to use buildings for programs after hours, but not as a “house of worship.”
The decision from the three-judge panel is the latest in a legal battle between city schools and religious groups; the arguments began 20 years ago.
In 2012, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska ruled that ruled against the ban, under the argument that holding a worship service in a school did not associate that establishment with a particular religion; Thursday’s decision overturned Preska’s ruling.
The church involved in the dispute, the Bronx Household of Faith, believes that the policy is in violation of its right to worship freely without government interference reports Charisma News.
Jordan Lorence, attorney to Bronx Household of Faith was disappointed in the outcome of the decision, but said that the church will now consider appealing to the circuit bench or taking the case to the Supreme Court.