Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (“Orthodox Union”) – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization—filed an Amicus Curiae Brief together with thirteen other religious institutions, to protect religious groups’ right to make use of school facilities in the same manner as other civic and community organizations.
Congregations have traditionally rented school buildings when they would otherwise lay vacant, in order to utilize these locations as a temporary place of worship while they construct or remodel their permanent religious facilities. Whereas most other school districts’ embrace the rental of school property at night and on the weekends, the New York City Board of Education has continuously fought to prohibit such rental by any religious organization.
The Brief was filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York, No. 12-2730, and urges the Second Circuit to protect the religious liberty of religious congregations’ by permitting the usage of public school facilities when they would otherwise be unused, and to additionally uphold the injunction entered by the federal district court on June 29, 2012, which barred the New York City Board of Education from prohibiting a religious congregation the use of public school facilities for religious services.
Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy stated:
The Orthodox Union stands with a diverse coalition of religious organizations to defend principles of religious liberty in the face of a New York City regulation that persists in discriminating against religious congregations in this diverse city.
We hope the Court of Appeals will finally reject the City’s policy and allow equal access for religious congregations to NYC school buildings on religion-neutral terms.
The Brief was signed by the Orthodox Union and the following religious organizations: The Christian Legal Society; The Council of Churches of the City of New York; The Brooklyn Council of Churches; The Queens Federation of Churches; The American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York; The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA; The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; The National Association of Evangelicals; The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention; The American Bible Society; The Anglican Church in North America; The Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing; and The Synod of New York, Reformed Church in America.