The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is joining an amicus curiae brief filed by the Christian Legal Society and other religious organizations in a religious liberty case currently on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The ACNA and the other organizations involved in this litigation are seeking favorable resolution in the issue over whether churches may be denied the chance to lease public school facilities on weekends and evenings for religious worship services.
Other community groups are currently allowed to lease these same facilities for other uses, including “non-worship” religious speech and activity.
“Many of our congregations are without a building, thus there are few places we can meet,” said Fr. Russell Martin of Christ the King Anglican Church in San Diego, CA.
“We have been worshipping in an elementary school for six years and have developed a wonderful relationship with the teachers and staff even providing support to classrooms out of respect for being allowed to use the facility.”
In October 2011, the ACNA joined an earlier amicus brief filed by the Christian Legal Society and others in support of the Bronx Household of Faith’s petition for certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking appellate review of an earlier decision by the Second Circuit that was hostile to religious liberty.
Most recently a federal District Court in New York ruled in favor of Bronx Household of Faith, forbidding the Board of Education of the City of New York to enforce a policy that would prohibit Bronx Household of Faith from holding Sunday religious worship services in a public school.
New York has since appealed this decision to the Second Circuit.
This issue is very important to the ACNA because of its strong commitment to religious freedom and because a number of its churches use public facilities for religious worship services.
“It’s vital for the Church to take a stand on this, because this is just the beginning of an infringement on our civil liberties, including our right to assemble and the free exercise of religion.” said Fr. Martin.
“It would be a bad precedent for the Second Circuit to set if they rule in favor of New York because it would severely impact our ability to gather for worship.”
Those supporting this litigation are asked to remember the Anglican Church in North America in prayer.