New York has recently begun evicting Christians who gather to worship inside publicly owned buildings.
On Thursday, NYPD officers arrested a group of New York pastors who were part of a “prayer protest” at the New York City Law Department. You can read a news story about the arrests here.
The group was protesting a New York City policy that bans religious groups from worshipping inside public buildings. In the South, where we have a church building on every street corner, we may wonder what the big deal is. However, in a place like New York, where Realestate is both scarce and expensive, there’s something you have to understand: A lot of groups, religious or otherwise, can’t afford a dedicated building for their meetings, so they make arrangements with local officials to meet at community centers or public school buildings (outside of school hours, obviously), or they simply people’s homes. However, this New York policy is being used to block churches from meeting in those public buildings, and it is being used to evict home churches that meet in publicly owned housing projects.
It is inconsistent for public buildings to be available to non-religious civic groups—like scout troops or Rotarians—but unavailable to churches. And it is certainly wrong to block a person’s free exercise of religion with their friends in that person’s home. The question is, will this kind of discrimination be tolerated in our country, and if it is, can we expect to see more of it in the future?
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.