Yesterday's New York Times contained an op-ed by Katherine Stewart in which she bemoaned the fact that a local church uses a neighborhood public school for religious services. She thinks this is wrong, that it threatens the separation of Church and State, that such services are divisive not inclusive, etc. Stewart's impoverished imagination fails to see that a scholl can and should be a vibrant part of a community and that opening its doors to groups like churches or community groups that need a place to gather will enhance the community not divide it. She notes that partisan groups are not permitted to use the school, to which I say, well let them in. She complains that some churches do not share her Greenwich Village values, to which I mutter to myself "Thank God" but also think that the First Amendment protects those religious groups to believe what they want and not to be discriminated because of it.
But, the extent of Stewart's hostility comes through when she gives voice to her resentment that the PTA paid to renovate the bathrooms that this church group can now use. Heaven forfend.
Church groups, like other groups, should have to pay to use public facilities but they should not be disciminated against in the use of such facilities because they are religious. Surely Ms. Stewart is smart enough to explain to her child that, no, allowing a church to use the space does not mean her school is a church or that the First Amendment is not profoundly threatened by such use. Why the Times gave valuable space on its op-ed page to print her rant is beyond me.
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