Thursday, March 5, 2009

School Shuts Out Entire Community To Avoid Church

New York's Broome Community College has answered a local church's freedom of religion lawsuit.

The college permitted a church to rent school property on weekends for its religious services, but stopped allowing it while still allowing other non-religious groups to use school facilities. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) then filed a lawsuit against the school, citing religious discrimination.

ADF attorney Daniel Blomberg was in court when the judge ruled the school was violating the Constitution. He notes the school has retaliated in a strange way.

"However, unfortunately, the college's response to this finding was it's going to shut down the forum for the entire community," he explains. "It will no longer rent its facilities on the weekends to anyone in the community as a way of trying to uphold its hostility toward religion."

According to an ADF press release, Blomberg finds it hard to believe the school would punish the whole city by turning away all venues, especially when it was receiving rental income from the church during the economic downturn.

"That's going to be shutting down things like...a roller skating rink that's available to the community on Saturdays and Sundays," he adds. "They said that's one of the things they were willing to do to keep churches out."

A court hearing will be held later to decide whether the church will have permission to rent space at the college if it holds services during the week instead of on weekends.

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