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  1. #1

    Default Community Center Won't Allow Religious Services on Site

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: NY

    I have a relative that is an ordained minister. He can't find a position in a local church so he went to the area community center and asked to rent a room there in which to hold services. The center administrator agreed to let him preach there for 5 weeks, but after the first service she said the center was "uncomfortable" having religious meetings and would no longer allow him to have them there. Fortunately, he has found another venue, but makes me wonder why the sudden about-face.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Re: Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center

    Did you have a legal question?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center

    Quote Quoting LawResearcherMissy
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    Did you have a legal question?
    The question was:

    "Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center."

    Given the separation of church and state, it's a legal question.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Quoting debodun
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    My question involves civil rights in the State of: NY

    I have a relative that is an ordained minister. He can't find a position in a local church so he went to the area community center and asked to rent a room there in which to hold services. The center administrator agreed to let him preach there for 5 weeks, but after the first service she said the center was "uncomfortable" having religious meetings and would no longer allow him to have them there. Fortunately, he has found another venue, but makes me wonder why the sudden about-face.
    I'm guessing that the community center is operated by the city.

    You can google separation of church and state and probably get your question answered.

    I imagine whoever allowed it was called on the carpet by superiors for doing so.

  4. #4
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    California
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    Default Re: Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center

    The question to be asked is whether or not anyone else can rent or borrow a room at the center for whatever purposes they wish. They either allow NO ONE with a religious or political message to rent space there, or they should allow most EVERYONE to do so. All because the message is religious does NOT mean that the city is condoning a particular faith in violation of the law.

    Too many gov't administrators run scared of anything that smacks of religion to the point that they DO actually violate the law when they restrict the message. They really need to read the Constitution where it says freedom "OF" religion, not from - and the establishment clause.

    Your relative - or even you - can certainly inquire as to why it was okay and then suddenly not okay. Hopefully they have a practical and objective answer supported by a lawful policy and not some kneejerk reaction to "It's religious, so we can't have it here ..."
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center

    Given the separation of church and state, it's a legal question.
    Only if it's a government funded community center, and our OP has not specified that. He asked why the center manager changed his mind.

    If it's a government funded center, then yes, separation of church and state applies. If it's privately run, they don't have to allow anyone to rent out a room if they don't want to. If it's run by a religious organization, they don't have to allow someone preaching things that don't align with their religious beliefs.

    If he's up preaching hellfire and damnation and upsetting the little old ladies next door in ceramics class with his hollering, it's a safe bet that he's going to be asked to take it elsewhere, because the center doesn't exist for his convenience to begin with.

    We have all three kinds of centers in my city, I don't imagine it's much different elsewhere.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Why Can't Religious Services Be Conducted at a Community Center

    Even if the center is in city hall, if the facility may be rented out then there can be no viewpoint discrimination - religious or not. There are numerous cases that require city, county and even school facilities to be made available to religious organizations or those that have faith or belief in a higher power as an element of their message (including the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, and even AA/NA meetings) -IF the entity allows the use of its facilities to anyone. There is all manner of case law supporting this. The only way to prevent this is to prohibit most any outside use of the facility.

    Unless the pastor violated some policy concerning the acts of the pastor or his people (and screaming and yelling, disturbing the ceramics class next door might qualify as such a violation), or had not paid for the facility when payment was actually required, then the sudden denial of access might be unlawful if any other group or organization might be allowed to rent it.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

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