Freedom of Religion – Part 1

Church Law and Tax 1989-01-01 Recent Developments Freedom of Religion Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M.,

Church Law and Tax 1989-01-01 Recent Developments

Freedom of Religion

Many churches use public school facilities on a temporary basis (and during noninstructional hours) during the construction or renovation of their own facilities. Many other churches have considered such a practice. Are such arrangements legal? That was the issue before a federal appeals court in New York in a recent case. A church applied for and was granted permission to use a public school building on four consecutive Sundays while its own church facility was being renovated. During the four week period, the church applied for a permit to use the school facilities for an additional “six to eight months.” This permit was denied, and a trial court granted the church’s request for an injunction forcing the school district to issue the requested permit. On appeal, the school district defended its refusal to grant the permit by pointing to a New York law that prohibits public school properties from being used for “meetings … where admission fees are charged … if such meetings are under the exclusive control, and said proceeds are to be applied for the benefit of … a religious sect or denomination.” The court acknowledged that this language was inconsistent with church use of public school property. However, it concluded that the school district had “opened this forum to [the church] through a practice of granting permits to use public school facilities to other religious organizations.” The court also rejected the school district’s argument that granting the permit to the church would constitute an impermissible “establishment of religion” in violation of the first amendment. It noted that “the semblance of official support is less evident where a school building is used at night as a temporary facility by religious organizations, under a program that grants access to all charitable groups.” Deeper Life Christian Fellowship v. Board of Education, 852 F.2d 676 (2nd Cir. 1988).

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay