Who: NYS Assemblyman Nelson L. Castro, NYC Council Member Fernando Cabrera, City Religious Leaders, Elected Officials, and other National Leaders
What: March in support of New York State Legislation A8800 to oppose eviction of houses of worship in public school buildings
When: Sunday, January 29, 2012 3:30PM
Where: Meeting: Cadman Plaza Park
Marching: Across Brooklyn Bridge
Ending: City Hall Park
Bronx, New York – New York State Assemblyman Nelson L. Castro (D-Bronx) announced the introduction of new legislation (Assembly Bill A8800) to authorize religious meetings and worship in schools when not in use for school purposes.
Currently, State Education Law allows school districts to provide an “Extended Use Permit” to any individual, community based organization (CBO), or any other organization. This permit allows for social, civic, educational, recreational meetings, and entertainment on school property, as well as other uses pertaining to the welfare of the community. This permit strictly states that “no permit shall be granted for the purpose of holding religious worship services.”
As a result, religious groups and organizations will not be allowed to worship in school properties as of February 12, 2012. Hundreds of churches that currently rent public school facilities will be evicted by the New York City Department of Education. “This determination by New York City will only affect communities of color and low income communities such as the one I represent,” Assemblyman Castro expressed.
Some school districts have excluded groups and have acted to regulate free speech and the conduct of religious organizations, potentially in violation of the both the New York State Constitution and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
“The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed in this state to all humankind” –Article 1.3 New York State Constitution
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” –First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States
This bill would prevent school districts from excluding groups from meeting in school property because of the religious content or viewpoint of their speech, including allowing religious meetings and entertainment.
Assemblyman Nelson L. Castro, NYC Council Member Fernando Cabrera, City Religious Leaders, Elected Officials, and other National Leaders will be part of a mass march to urge Mayor Bloomberg and the Department of education to remove the discriminatory action of eviction against House of Worship from public schools on February 12, 2012. Marchers will also urge the New York State Legislature to support this legislation and advocate for “Equal Access.”