Church can use school while appeals panel split on church-state suit

The fact is that none of us who are judges are competent to offer a legal definition of worship. – Judge John Walker Jr.

By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
The New York Sun

July 3, 2007 – TheScroogeReport.com Post

MANHATTAN, New York – The city’s policy of barring churches from holding Sunday services in public schools could provide the U.S. Supreme Court with its next big “establishment clause” case, given the fractured judgment rendered by a federal appellate court in Manhattan yesterday.

The three judges on the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel who heard a Bronx congregation’s challenge to the policy each issued a separate opinion. One judge of Bronx House hold of Faith v. Board of Education ruled in favor of the church; another decided in favor of the Board of Education’s anti-church policy; a third found the case was not yet ready for review. As a result, the church may continue to use the school building pending further appeal.

The case likely prompted such division because of the question, more theological than legal, at its center: What is worship? The legal significance of the question hangs on a 2001 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the court held that schools allowing use of their campus after hours by secular groups could not then exclude religious groups from conducting religious instruction or discussion on school grounds.

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