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OpEd: Tim Keller on “NYC School’s Decision to Ban Churches”

I am grieved that New York City is planning to take the unwise step of removing 68 churches from the spaces that they rent in public schools. It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve. Churches have long been seen as positive additions to [...]

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I am grieved that New York City is planning to take the unwise step of removing 68 churches from the spaces that they rent in public schools. It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve. Churches have long been seen as positive additions to communities. Family stability, resources for those in need, and compassion for the marginalized are all positive influences that neighborhood churches provide. There are many with first-hand experience who will claim that the presence of churches in a neighborhood can lead to a drop in crime.

The great diversity of our city means that we will never all agree completely on anything. And we cherish our city’s reputation for tolerance of differing opinions and beliefs. Therefore, we should all mourn if disagreement with certain beliefs of the church is allowed to unduly influence the formation of just policy and practice.

I disagree with the opinion written by Judge Pierre Leval that: “A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church.” This is an erroneous theological judgment; I know of no Christian church or denomination that believes that merely holding a service in a building somehow “consecrates” it, setting it apart from all common or profane use. To base a legal opinion on such a superstitious view is surely invalid. Conversely, we concur with Judge John Walker’s dissenting opinion that this ban constitutes viewpoint discrimination and raises no legitimate Establishment Clause concerns.

A disproportionate number of churches that are affected by this prohibition are not wealthy, established communities of faith. They are ones who possess the fewest resources and many work with the poor. Redeemer has many ties with those churches and their pastors, and our church community invests time and resources to assist them to be good neighbors in their communities.

Let them be those good neighbors. I am hopeful that the leaders of New York City and the legislators of New York State will see the value of a society that encourages all spheres of culture—the church, government, education, business, etc—to work together for human flourishing.

Dr. Timothy Keller
Senior Pastor
Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Released to A Journey for publication this morning by Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

61 Responses to “OpEd: Tim Keller on “NYC School’s Decision to Ban Churches”” Leave a reply ›

  • "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

    Push back Christians. You won't have to push hard. Theirs is a house of cards.

  • It is a shame that government has decided to wage war against anyone with a religious affiliation. The president with his decision to force abortion, sterilization and contraception as FREE mandates in health care (considering the fact that women could already get this free from Planned Parenthood) is a violation of the first amendment. Not to be outdone, bloomberg has decided to force any religious group from being able to rent public space. Public space should be available to the public...even the religious public. Considering the fact that raising taxes to fund schools has become a tremendous burden on everyone, getting rid of rent that helps subsidize costs makes it more absurd.
    It is time for this country to stop attacking religions just to satisfy an immoral minority. Churches help communities, providing services to the poor.

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