February 7, 2012
New York's Tim Keller Calls Ouster of Churches 'Unwise'
Churches will stop gathering in school buildings this week.
A day after embattled New York pastors who use public school buildings to hold off-hours worship services complained that they had little support from the city's megachurches, Redeemer Presbysterian lead pastor Tim Keller issued an op-ed-style letter, saying:
I am grieved that New York City is planning to take the unwise step of removing 68 churches from the spaces that they rent in public schools. It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve. Churches have long been seen as positive additions to communities. Family stability, resources for those in need, and compassion for the marginalized are all positive influences that neighborhood churches provide.
There are many with first-hand experience who will claim that the presence of churches in a neighborhood can lead to a drop in crime. The great diversity of our city means that we will never all agree completely on anything. And we cherish our city’s reputation for tolerance of differing opinions and beliefs. Therefore, we should all mourn if disagreement with certain beliefs of the church is allowed to unduly influence the formation of just policy and practice. I disagree with the opinion written by Judge Pierre Leval that: “A worship service is an act of organized religion that consecrates the place in which it is performed, making it a church.” This is an erroneous theological judgment; I know of no Christian church or denomination that believes that merely holding a service in a building somehow “consecrates” it, setting it apart from all common or profane use. To base a legal opinion on such a superstitious view is surely invalid. Conversely, we concur with Judge John Walker’s dissenting opinion that this ban constitutes viewpoint discrimination and raises no legitimate Establishment Clause concerns.
Yesterday, in an online news piece, Bill Devlin, pastor of Manhattan Bible Church, complained about the lack of megachurch support.
Pastor Bill Devlin of Manhattan Bible Church has helped lead the Right to Worship protests since the beginning. He told The Christian Post that a steering committee made up of 10 pastors affected by the ban came to him and asked, "Where are these pastors who have these huge churches? They have been absolutely silent." Devlin said they have tried contacting large churches that have their own buildings, and the "major response we've gotten from big dog churches and pastors is, 'We'll pray for you.'"
For the full report in the Christian Post, click here.