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Court Bans Teaching of Facts in New York’s Sunday Schools

NEW YORK — In a reversal of a lower court’s decision, a federal appeals panel ruled Thursday that New York City can bar religious groups from holding services in public schools as well as the teaching of facts during Sunday school.

Judge Pierre N. Leval, writing for the majority, said the ban was “consistent with…constitutional duties,” and that it did not violate the right to free exercise of religion. Leval also noted as there with nothing in the Bill of Rights prohibiting the flow of factual information, the court was entitled to ban it from religious services.

“Teaching scientifically-testable and independently verifiable truth is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned for our nation’s religious institutions,” Leval said in his written opinion. “All Sunday Schools in the City of New York must therefore immediately remove all factual data from their curriculum and stick to church-approved mythology and superstition.”

Hailed as a victory in the decades-long battle over separation of church and state, secularists say the ruling will ensure public schools remain free of state-endorsed religion, as well as protecting the right of churches to remain untethered to the post-Scientific Revolution world. However, some religious leaders are angered at the ruling.

“It isn’t the job of New York to tell me how much, or how little, factual information I want to inject into my sermons,” Bronx pastor Matthew Maynard told reporters. “Maybe I want to mention that William McKinley died on September 14, 1901 between stories about the guy who survived 40 days without drinking water. It’s my church, damn it!”

While Mayor de Blasio is in favor of the right of religious organizations to hold services in public schools, in contrast to the policy of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, de Blasio supported the court’s ruling on factual teachings, noting, “[I]t isn’t fair to allow our churches, synagogues, or mosques to make appeals to scientific law, any more than it would be fair to instruct all the chemistry teachers in the city to pray to Zeus. This is a victory for both groups.”

“I stand by my belief that a faith organization playing by the same rules as any community nonprofit deserves access,” de Blasio said. “But at the same time, you can’t be bringing in science and reason into a church or a Sunday school.”

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New York Today's Headlines

Mayor de Blasio Offers Full-Body Scanner Option in Place of Stop-and-Frisk

NEW YORK – In an effort to settle New York City’s multi-year legal battle over its police department’s contentious stop-and-frisk practices, Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the city would drop its appeal and adopt reforms ordered by a federal judge. The measures include, among other things, a move toward full-body scans of any citizen who is stopped by the police on the street.

Under the new protocol, police officers can no longer perform an invasive pat down on individuals suspected of criminal activity. Instead, they are urged to perform full-body scans in the back of a police cruiser. The specially crafted X-ray machines, which provide a “welcome alternative to rogue police tactics,” are smaller versions of the scanners used by the TSA.

We’re here today to turn the page on one of the most divisive problems in our city,” Mr. de Blasio told a throng of reporters at the Brownsville Recreation Center in a Brooklyn neighborhood that saw more stop-and-frisks in 2010 than any other location in the city.

“No longer will we allow our African-American and Latino populations to be awkwardly groped and caressed by the meaty paws of a middle-aged, white cop with an axe to grind. Now, they will undergo a more hands-off form of humiliation in the name of public safety.”

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, who served under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, doesn’t believe the stop-and-scan tactics will do anything to allay the concerns of New York City minorities.

“All I know is that going through those body scanners at the airport is a giant pain the ass,” said Kelly. “I don’t see it any being any different in the back of a police cruiser. Although, there is one advantage: cops won’t be forced to stick their hands up some poor guy’s ass digging for a stash of cocaine. It’ll luckily be right there on the monitor, saving everyone involved a lot of heartache and latex. So there’s that.”

The stop-and-scan strategy will officially commence in June 2015, when all NYPD cars are equipped with the necessary equipment. Until then, officers are urged to “fight all their most basic instincts” and search minorities only when it appears they’re actually committing a crime, and “not just standing there.”