Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a favorable settlement agreement with Broome Community College on behalf of North Pointe Church, which is now allowed equal access to campus facilities after being told it was no longer permitted to meet on campus. ADF attorneys filed suit in February over the school’s discriminatory policy prohibiting religious groups from renting its buildings for meetings while allowing other similarly situated community groups to do so.
“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Daniel Blomberg. “We are pleased that Broome Community College now recognizes the constitutional right of churches and other religious groups to meet in public meeting facilities on the same terms as other groups.”
North Pointe Church had been regularly holding meetings in a rented facility on the Broome Community College campus for several months. But college officials invoked a ban on “religious services” and barred the church from continuing to rent space there after a few members of the public complained to the college about a church meeting in a public facility.
ADF attorneys, along with local counsel Raymond Dague of Syracuse, filed North Pointe Church v. Moppert with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of NewYork, arguing that churches have equal access to public facilities under the law and cannot be discriminated against because of the religious nature of their meetings--especially as paying customers.
In March, just days after the filing, the college stated in court that it would be closing its facilities to everyone on weekends because of financial constraints that made it cheaper to simply close the buildings; however, later evidence revealed that Broome’s buildings actually remained open on the weekends for other uses.
Barred from using the campus, the church searched for and found another location at which to meet during the ongoing litigation and plans to continue meeting at its new location now that it has already moved. However, the change in the Broome policy removes an unconstitutional barrier for any church that wishes to meet on the campus on equal terms with other groups in the future.
ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit with the court Tuesday in light of the settlement, in which the college also agreed to reimburse legal fees and costs.
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