A former staffer in the Obama White House is reminding Democratic voters that presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg helped evict New York churches from meeting in public buildings as mayor.
The controversy involved dozens of congregations in New York City that rented space within unoccupied public school buildings on Sundays. Typically, the congregations either didn’t have the funds to own their own church buildings or had outgrown their own space.
School districts across the U.S. have similar arrangements. But Bloomberg, then the mayor of New York City, said the agreement violated the U.S. Constitution. Backed by court rulings, Bloomberg and his administration ordered congregations to find other space. The policy was in place before he became mayor, but Bloomberg supported it, claiming churches meeting in public facilities gave the appearance of endorsement.
“Separation of church and state is one of the basics of our country,” he said in 2012. “The more religious you are, I think the more you should want to keep the separation because someday the religion that the state picks as the ‘state religion’ might not be yours. The way to solve that is to not have a state religion.”
The policy permitted other community groups to meet within public schools. Churches, though, could not. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who succeeded Bloomberg, ended the policy.
Michael Wear, a…
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