Monday, April 23, 2012

'Prayer March' Over Brooklyn Bridge: Churches Want Right to Rent Space In Public Schools

Rally In Cadman Plaza Park, Brooklyn

Hundreds of church-goers from across New York City gathered in Cadman Plaza Park in Downtown Brooklyn in the pouring rain Sunday to rally for the right for religious groups to continue to rent space from public schools during off hours.

The purpose of the gathering was to put pressure on state legislators to vote for State Assembly bill A8800, which would allow churches to hold services in public schools. Other organizations are allowed to rent space in schools, and churches say they should not be discriminated against.

About 68 churches across the city face expulsion from the spaces they rent. Supporters say that the churches are an asset to their communities, especially in boroughs like the Bronx and Brooklyn.The rent they pay to public schools helps the schools with their budget problems as well.

Rev. Dimas Salaberrios of the Infinity New York Church said at the rally, "Churches need to be able to worship and rent space in schools just like any other organization. The Mayor is discriminating against the faith community and it's harmful to the city." Salaberrios said that poor neighborhoods with church activities in facilities rented from schools showed a decrease in crime.

"The Mayor wanted everybody out February 12; now we have till the end of the school year," he said.

Following the march over the bridge, participants marched to City Hall Park for a concert.

UPDATE: More at the Brooklyn Eagle

- More on topic from a similar march in January.

- The church groups have set up a webpage at

- Earlier article about the issue in the New York Times

Photos by MK Metz

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