Today is Election Day…

Photo from the New York Daily News

… here in New York City, and CLR Forum reader John McGinnis points us to an interesting New York Times column on the election’s likely effect on some important law-and-religion controversies. Whether the heavily-favored Democrat Bill de Blasio or the Republican Joe Lhota prevail in today’s mayoral contest, the Times reports, the next administration will likely be friendlier than the Bloomberg Administration to the city’s faith communities:

After 12 years of a mayor who has resisted making concessions to religious groups, New York City is in for a change.

The two leading candidates for mayor — Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and Joseph J. Lhota, a Republican — have pledged to break with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on a range of issues at the nexus of government and religion. They say they would accommodate two of the most important Muslim holy days, allow church services on school property, and work with Jewish leaders to ease the city’s supervision of circumcision rituals.

We’ve covered the last two issues here at the Forum. With respect to church services on school property, the city has been fighting in federal court to stop churches from using public school property for worship services on Sunday; it looks like that litigation will soon become moot. And here’s a post about the particular circumcision ritual that has run afoul of city health regulators.

Religion in New York City is typically (though not always) an ethnic phenomenon. New Yorkers are not so comfortable with overt religiosity; but tribe, we understand. The greater solicitude for faith communities likely reflects a return to classic interest-group politics more than a resurgent piety. Still, it’s interesting to observe the change in tone from the hyper-secular Bloomberg Administration, which actually banned clergy from 9/11 commemorations. By the way, here’s another sign of changing religious politics. When asked to describe his religious views, de Blasio answered, “I have my own spirituality, but it doesn’t take the form of any particular religion.” Our likely next mayor is a None.

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