Update: Full New York Senate Okays Bill on Churches at Schools
Breaking news update:
The full New York Senate has approved the bill (S6087) that would allow houses of worship to rent from schools in connection with worship services.
According to the Office of State Senator Fernando Cabrera, "Despite heavy and unprecedented lobbying from the Bloomberg Administration, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill S6087 which amends education law in relation to authorizing religious meetings and worship in school buildings and school sites.
"When asked to comment on the bill, one of its leading supporters, Pastor and New York City Council Member Fernando Cabrera responded by saying: "Today was a real testament to the power of bipartisan leadership but now, we need the same leadership and bipartisan example showed by the Assembly. We now call on speaker Silver to follow the example of the Republican lead senate, to stand for houses of worship poor communities."
Christianity Today will update this story as needed.
As protests continue over New York City's plans to evict churches that meet in school buildings, the state's legislature took a key step toward allowing those churches to stay.
Last Friday, the Senate Education Committee approved an amendment to New York's education laws that would allow churches to meet at schools outside school hours. Only one member of the 18-member committee voted outright against the bill, though six voted for it "with reservation."
There has been no word on when the full Senate might vote on the legislation, but the New York City Council will reportedly hold a hearing on it tomorrow morning. Council member Fernando Cabrera has introduced a resolution supporting the state bill.
About 60 New York City congregations are scheduled to be evicted from the school buildings February 12.
CT reported in December that the Supreme Court had declined the Bronx Household of Faith's appeal of the city's ban on worship services in public schools. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in June that the NYC Department of Education had the legal right to bar churches from renting school facilities for worship services.
Many protests have been staged throughout the city. On Sunday, thousands of protestors marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Dimas Salaberrios, pastor of Infinity New York Church, held a 24-day hunger strike; he was forced to end it after experiencing chest pains. January protests at the city's Law Department and at Mayor Michael Bloomberg's State of the City address led to dozens of arrests.
Image from NYCReligion.info. Used with permission.