By the time this newspaper reaches your hands, religious services will be banned by the city Department of Education in public schools. The DOE set Sunday as the final day when the doors would be open to religious services.
Days earlier, the state Senate voted on a bill 54-7 that opposed the DOE action. Sen. Toby Stavisky was one of seven Democrats who supported the ban.
Stavisky said although she recognized the need for religious institutions to have places of worship, the First Amendment clause mandating the separation of church and state held precedence.
That is a stretch. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Stavisky insists there must be a “wall of separation between church and state.” That phrase is not found within the Constitution, but was most likely taken from a letter written by President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802.
The 54 senators believe that allowing a church to hold services in a public school on a day when there are no classes or student activities cannot be construed as “an establishment of religion.”
We agree so long as the doors are open to any religion needing the space and so long as the service is not used as a back door to spread religious belief.
To the best of our knowledge, no student has been harmed by the religious services held on a day when they are not at school. The school is the same at 8 a.m. Monday as it was 4 p.m. Friday.
The DOE invented a problem and then attempted to solve it. This fight has been going on for 16 years. The department allows after-school and other community organizations to use public schools during non-school hours.
Worship services were not permitted until 2002. The DOE has probably spent millions of dollars to keep churches out, money that would have been better spent on books.
©2012 Community News Group
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