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Rally on Brooklyn Bridge against ban on renting schools for worship


amny Photo Credit: Protesters march on City Hall Park/Tim Herrera

Hundreds of protesters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday against an upcoming citywide ban that prevents religious groups from renting space in public schools for worship.

The ban, set to begin Feb. 12, will force about 60 churches to relocate. The city says it will keep clear the line between church and state, but opponents call it inequity.

"It's unnecessarily discriminatory against Houses Of Worship in New York City," City Comptroller and John Liu told amNewYork.

"It’s hard to fathom why they’ve been so steadfast in pushing this, the school spaces should be available for the public without discrimination," said Liu, who led the march across the bridge along with a bevy of pastors other officials.

The ban stems from a legal battle between Bronx Household of Faith and the city, on which the United States Court of Appeals ruled in June that the city can prohibit churches from gathering at public schools. In December the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, affirming the ruling.

Protester Jeffrey Tavarez, 30, of the Bronx, said people of all faiths should protest the ban.

"I come from a Christian church, and it doesn’t even matter that I’m Christian or not, it’s about all denominations who are getting affected," Tavarez said.

He added: "Once they start attacking the churches they will go out for others."

The city has stood by the ban, saying it's a matter of ensuring that the city doesn't become aligned with one faith.

The "DOE is quite properly concerned about having any school in this diverse city identified with one particular religious belief or practice," said Jane Gordon, senior counsel of the New York City Law Department.

The NYPD said there were no arrests during the march, but earlier this month a handful of marchers were arrested at a similar rally.

Follow reporter Tim Herrera on Twitter: @tim_herrera


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