Cape Gazette
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Thoughts on church services in Rehoboth

By John J. Meng | Jul 11, 2013

I believe all the people who are up in arms about the City of Rehoboth Beach violating the rights of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in denying to issue them a permit to hold a service are comparing apples to oranges and are being a little disingenuous with their outrage.

The city did not deny anyone from holding a service on the beach. it did deny the church a permit to hold a service on the Bandstand.

While the two are in proximity of each other, they are not the same.  Letter writer Brian Aldred cited the Supreme Court case "Good News Club Vs. Milford Central School" as a reason why the city violated the church's rights.

The part of the decision that I think does apply to this instance is "Religion can exist in the public sector when it does not burden any members of the public."

Holding a service on the Bandstand does burden the public. I would suppose the pastor would like to be heard? That entails having the Bandstand sound engineer set up a sound system. I suppose the people coming to this would like to sit down? That entails setting up seating, and I also imagine people coming to this would like to park and other residents would like to avoid traffic congestion as well; that entails utilizing the police department for traffic control.

None of these things are free and their cost would be a burden on the residents of Rehoboth Beach.  I think the city and Mr. Ferese in particular were correct in denying the permit.

From what I have heard the church had a beautiful service on the beach, that was well attended (1,000-plus) and there were no problems of any sort.  So instead of sowing seeds of dissention I think those who support the New Covenant Church should look at the whole incident as a positive.and have another service on the beach.

John J. Meng
Rehoboth Beach

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