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Last Thursday in New York City was unusually cold, but that didn’t stop more than 100 pastors, church members, and legislators from gathering on the steps of City Hall.

The demonstrators–many black, Hispanic, and Asian-American–did not get a crumb’s worth of coverage in comparison to that received by Occupy Wall Street, but their mission has national implications that are at least as equally significant.

The problem: Many groups rent New York public school rooms for evening or weekend use, but the city now bans their use for religious services. Courts have declared the ban legal, and the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 5 refused to hear an appeal (see “‘Denied,'” by Emily Belz, Dec. 5). The demonstrators want the New York City Council to overturn the ban, so they gathered at City Hall shortly before noon, hurrying past the security checkpoint with smiles and coffee, anxious to hug fellow church members or shake hands with City Councilman Fernando Cabrera.
Cabrera is also a Bronx pastor and the leader of the attempt to overturn this discrimination against religion. After a prayer, Cabrera and others spoke about the problem: Some 60 churches currently rent space in New York City public schools for services, and, if the ban remains, all of them will have to find another space by Feb. 12. Behind Cabrera stood church members from all five city boroughs, some carrying signs that read: “Don’t make my church homeless” and “Freedom of access.”

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