Hispanic evangelical leaders are speaking out after a federal appeals court ruled that New York City has a constitutional right to bar religious groups from using public schools for worship services after hours.
The National Latino Evangelical Coalition, a group of over 3,000 Hispanic evangelical churches, immediately expressed its disagreement with the ruling Thursday.
“This decision is absolutely unnecessary and whimsical. How is allowing for certain worship practices but not worship services consistent with the First Amendment?,” Gabriel Salguero, president of NaLEC, said in a statement. “Worship in empty school buildings in no way undermines the non-establishment clause.”
The ruling is the latest relating to a lawsuit that began nearly two decades ago when The Bronx Household of Faith Church sued the city for denying their Sunday services at a school, although the same location was being offered to other religious groups.
According to Judge Pierre N. Leval, who wrote the ruling for the 2-to-1 majority of the panel, the city’s ban is “consistent with its constitutional duties,” and said that it did not violate the right to free exercise of religion.
However, Salguero, who also serves as pastor of the Lamb’s Church in Manhattan, said NaLEC is particularly concerned about how the ruling will impact church-planting efforts and ethnic and immigrant churches since many do not own their own facilities in New York.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post