The separation of church and state is misunderstood in both Christian and secular circles. It has been misconstrued to mean that schools must never mention God, have any type of prayer, or conduct religious meetings within the confines of the building. However, the true meaning of the phrase, “separation of church and state” refers to the fact that public school teachers and administrators should never enforce a certain religious belief on any student at any time.
A controversial lawsuit, Bronx Household of Faith vs. New York City Board of Education, was based on the notion that worship should not take place at any time in a public school building. In early 2012 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the New York City Board of Education could uphold a ban on churches from holding their services in a school building. They believed it to be in violation of the separation of church and state.
To ban any group from renting a school building supported by tax paying citizens because they might influence a student is unconstitutional. Holding a worship service on a Sunday while school is not in session is not in violation of the separation of church and state. Since the services are primarily held on Sundays, the parishioners do not enforce their beliefs on any student at any time while they are in the building. Also, financially speaking, it is not a wise decision to turn down source of rent income in a day and age when the school system is struggling.
Thankfully the ban has been overturned, and currently churches and other religious organizations are allowed to meet in public school buildings. Maybe the Board of Education will recognize that church groups and religious organizations are not enforcing their beliefs on anyone, but simply want to practice the freedom of religion that is part of the fabric of America.