By Contributor Eric Blauer
“A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church” – Judge Pierre Leval
I disagree with this judge’s ruling and statement. As pastor of a church that currently meets in a city building, the East Central Community Center, in our neighborhood, I find the recent ruling in New York to be extremely troubling. For a judge to make such an erroneous theological statement in relationship to his ruling, pushes this civil debate into murky waters with unforeseen consequences. Martin Bashir of MSNBC recently weighed in on the issue and his thoughts are worth hearing. Well known, NYC pastor Timothy Keller also had something to say as a pastor from that area.
As the courts of our nation wrestle more and more with matters of secular versus sacred legislation and policy that touch issues of faith and practice for millions of Americans, one must be vigilant in staying current in the public debate on these matters that will affect us in the days to come. Our own city is cutting funding and our neighborhood community center is under the budget knife, which could eliminate many important social services to this neighborhood. Our church leases space and runs a community resource center for refugee resettlement on the second floor of the East Central Community Center. We primarily work with the marginalized and low-income people and these cuts will potentially impact our services and community work in this neighborhood.
I hope the local and national electorate, especially the religious part, will work hard at maintaining their presence, voice and vote in the public arena. It is important because the America many of know and love, continues to be reshaped by neo-constitutionalist secularists who would like to expand beyond the original intent and meaning of the founding father’s ideas regarding separation of church and state.