December 18, 2017

Antagonism to Religion on Display in NYC

Matt Recker

The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2012 decision that city officials could not enforce a ban against churches from renting from schools. The 2012 decision allowed churches to rent schools until this new ruling was handed down on Thursday, April 2, 2014. This back and forth legal battle once again shifts to the side of the Board of Education. The battle may not yet be over, but the decision displays chilling attitudes in place among some of the leading people of the nation.

First, on display is religious discrimination, which threatens the liberties of all Americans. Toleration is in vogue as long as tolerating Christians is not required. New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Liebermann said that “when a school is converted to a church in this way, it sends a powerful message … that the government favors that particular church.”

The NYCLU attitude is completely in error, for the government favors no church over another when renting to a particular church, synagogue, or mosque. It is purely first come, first serve. If one church is renting the space because they got there first, the school will not favor another church or group over the one that already was there first.

Second, on display is hostility toward faith. Is religion a danger or threat to a community? The churches renting schools actively promote wholesome community values. Ironically, the school we rent actively promotes such things as yoga, a religious practice of eastern religions, and wine drinking (through posters throughout the school). This, in an elementary school! The school system is profoundly hostile toward the Bible but not yoga or wine.

Third, on display is real ignorance in a number of ways. Judge Pierre Level said that “a worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church.” The statement is completely astonishing. I can assure you that we do not hold to such superstitious views that having a worship service in a building mystically sets it apart from its normal use as a school through the week. No church believes that. To make that claim displays profound ignorance.

According to the ruling in Good News Club, they say that we can sing hymns, say prayers, read from and discuss the Bible in a school, but we cannot conduct religious worship services. What does the good judge think a worship service is? All churches do all those things in a worship service. It is hard to believe that all the acts of worship are permitted, but a worship service is not.

The most startling ignorance, however, might be the ignorance of what is separation of church and state. The “establishment clause” was never meant to evict God and church from the public square, rather it was adopted so that the government could not force everyone to conform to one religious view. Renting a school building to the church does nothing close to this. The first amendment says that the government is not to prohibit the free exercise thereof. When churches are prohibited from exercising religion freely on public property, like a school, one can certainly argue that the state is violating the first amendment.

The persistent desire of the Board of Education to evict churches from the schools that our tax dollars all support, may subtly reveal their belief in a religion of humanism. Has that become the state religion of America? Perhaps the Board of Education does not want any competing views of their doctrines and morals in their publically funded indoctrination centers (the schools). The church threatens their views on many fronts, from origins to morals and that is what really drives their desire to remove freedom of speech from public space.

Matt Recker is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in New York City.

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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