Assemblyman John Ceretto, R-I-Lewiston, is sponsoring Assembly bill 8800-A, legislation that would authorize the use of school buildings and sites for religious meetings and worship when the facilities are not in use for school purposes. Since the services hosted by these organizations are open to the general public, Ceretto said there is no reason why they should be prohibited from using public buildings.
Ceretto noted that the legislation came in response to the New York City Department of Education's (DOE) plan to evict a number of religious congregations from their traditional houses of worship.
"Many of these groups are small churches that have used public schools as a weekend place of worship for years," Ceretto said. "Now these organizations will be forced to relocate because of the hypocritical and misguided decision by the New York City Department of Education to evict these rent-paying congregations from their traditional homes.
"While this is a New York City issue, as a lawmaker, I believe it is my duty to protect the religious freedoms of all New Yorkers," Ceretto said. "I am appalled by the City DOE's actions, and I urge my colleagues to pass my legislation to prevent this travesty from occurring."
Under Ceretto's legislation, it would be illegal to ban an organization from using school buildings or sites, when not in use for school purposes, simply because they intend to use it for religious meetings or worship.