Churches Banned From DOE Schools Hold Out Hope
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Members of an upper Manhattan church gathered Sunday to protest the city's policy blocking churches from using public schools for their services.
The Heavenly Vision Christian Center held a service yesterday outside its former home, PS 52 in Inwood.
Last Monday, the city began enforcing its ban on renting space to more than 50 churches for religious purposes, including the Crossroads Church on Staten Island.
"This is America, we are based on freedom of religion," said Crossroads Church Choir Director Candice Parascando.
A judge later issued a 10-day hold on the policy. However, another ruling by three other judges Friday night allowed just one Bronx church to worship in a school over the weekend.
The city says it doesn't want to favor a particular faith, but churches argue that schools are not in session when they worship.
"It makes me feel sad because we don't know where to go," said one Heavenly Vision Christian Center worshiper.
"We got kicked out of school so we have to worship God today in the streets. I don't know what's going to happen next week. I pray that they let us in, but one thing...we won't stop praising the Lord," said Pastor Salvador Sabino of the Heavenly Vision Christian Center.
The city says it plans to keep fighting efforts to stop its eviction policy.
City Council member Fernando Cabrera expects the judge who issued the 10 day stay to rule in favor of all the evicted churches.
"The judge was very clear at the court. She said to the Board of Education, 'Fix this problem or I'm going to fix it for you,'" said Cabrera.
The judge who issued the 10-day stay says she will make a full ruling within a week.
The city law department says it would be imprudent to comment or speculate on it until the order is issued and reviewed.