For some years now, a number of religious congregations in New York City that were short of worship space have taken advantage of unoccupied public school buildings, and paid a fee to use such space for their services. Other community groups and organizations do similar things. A win-win, you would think. However, the City of New York has long been suing to prevent churches—and only the churches, mind you—from utilizing public school space in this way. Something to do, I guess, with the terrible danger to innocent kids of merely knowing that the space they’re sitting in might have been occupied the evening before by a person who professes belief in God. Continue reading New York ban on church use of space in schools upheld
Below are two very recent headlines I grabbed:
You see these kinds of stories all the time, with schools or teachers running afoul of what is characterized as “the separation of church and state” (which is a phrase some people mistakenly believe resides in the U.S. Constitution, but no matter that now). God doesn’t belong in a public school classroom, we are told, and that goes double for the Bible, which is a manifestation of that specific Judeo-Christian God.
Although I’m not personally an advocate of this idea of actively expunging religious concepts from the natural life and thought that would take place in schools, I do understand the concept. It’s why, when passing a public school in my New York City neighborhood, I’ve raised my eyebrow at a sign that has long hung over the main entrance. It says: “Robert F. Kennedy Students Have KARMA.” That’s PS 169, of the New York City Public School system. Continue reading No God, But New York City Public School Students Have “KARMA”
Well, not exactly. With gusty winds this afternoon, the city decided to “close” Central Park, due to the risk of falling branches. Two people have been killed by falling branches there in the past couple of years, so it’s by no means a theoretical problem. Still, closing the park today seems driven by a pronounced fear of litigation, the same fear which drives a lot of ultra-cautious decisions. In any case, it’s pretty difficult to close Central Park in practice, given its size and the enormous number of entry points. And it was pretty hard for New Yorkers (and their dogs) to resist the cool afternoon breezes today, and the desire to get out for a long walk after being cooped up by rain. Continue reading Central Park is closed?
Solely from the perspective of our vantage point in the upper east sector of Manhattan, Hurricane (or Tropical Storm) Irene has been next to nothing. Expecting to wake up to screaming winds and rain this morning as the eye was approaching New York City, instead we found it to be lightly raining and barely breezy. The dog has had two quite pleasant walks already today. The sun has peeked out a couple of times. Continue reading It’s been a breeze