by: Christina Trinidad
It seems that our nation that claims, “In God we trust”, is turning the other cheek. Surprisingly, our “nation under God” is kicking faith based practices out of city owned properties and to the curb.
It is no surprise why citizens are out-raged at New York’s new ruling banning religious practices in city-owned properties. This law enforces the eviction of 160 pastors by February 12th, including Dimas Salaberrios of Infinity New York Church who meets in Bronx River Houses, and now must find other spaces to congregate.
Salaberrios, a Bronx pastor who has traveled the entire world, except Antarctica, to spread the word of God would not allow this act of repression by our government to conquer. The Church claims that the city’s rule is discriminating against religious groups that use Public School space on the same terms as other groups, but the Supreme Court denies hearing Bronx Household of Faith vs. New York City Department of Education.
Therefore, Salaberrios organized a protest which took place last week Thursday on 100 Church Street where twenty supporters blocked the entrance of our city’s Law Department headquarters. However, only six remained alongside Dimas in civil disobedience, refusing to abandon their demonstration at the request of police officials.
One of the seven courageous protestors, who were then convicted of trespassing, was(was/is) democratic pastor and Councilman of the Bronx, Fernando Cabrera, who has never been arrested but is also desperate for change. Concerns of the possible progression of the issue should subside due to modest alterations kicking into gear. Justice Sonia Sotomayor Houses and the Bronx River Houses first decided to extend their leases with the churches until the 26th of February. NYCHA recently decided to drop plans of evicting the religious groups and are willing to work with them. In fact, NYCHA denies that any changes of policy were made.
The fight seems slow but steady as Cabrera continues to fight. He explains, “But the fight isn’t over and more rallies are being planned. We will continue to call on Mayor Bloomberg to lift the ban on Houses of Worship from meeting in public schools. I hope Mayor Bloomberg will follow the example of NYCHA’s and allow Houses of Worship to continue to meet in New York City Public Schools without restriction based on content.”