Blocking money to church playground 'odious', US Supreme Court rules


At issue was whether Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia should have been eligible to receive federal funds to refurbish its playground.

The state rejected the request, citing a provision in Missouri's constitution, similar to those in many other states, that says, "no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion".

The decision was authored by Chief Justice Roberts, who focused on the fact that Trinity Lutheran was forced to make a choice between participating in a public sponsored benefit program or remaining a religious institution. Now, the case between the two parties will be heard by the #Supreme Court to determine whether the baker acted lawfully or not. In 2012, the court ruled that Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church could define its "ministers" as it wishes, throwing out a discrimination suit from a teacher in its school who was sacked.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that states can not bar churches and other religious organizations from receiving taxpayer-funded grants for programs that have non-religious intent.

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The case pitted Trinity Lutheran Church against Missouri's Department of Natural Resources, which offered grants to help nonprofits pay for the resurfacing of playgrounds with recycled tires. Over 30 states have Blaine Amendments preventing religious schools from receiving any public funding, and McGinnis said school choice advocates might get support from parochial schools seeking additional funding.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the ruling a "significant victory for religious liberty and an affirmation of the First Amendment rights of all Americans".

"If this separation means anything, it means that the government can not, or at the very least need not, tax its citizens and turn that money over to houses of worship", Sotomayor wrote. This doesn't mean that taxpayer funds can now be used to fund religious instruction or any other parade of horribles that was raised by Trinity Lutheran's opponents. That public accommodation regulation prohibits any business that is open to the public from denying service to customers based on their race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation. Its decision slights both our precedents and our history, and its reasoning weakens this country's longstanding commitment to a separation of church and state beneficial to both.

Gustafson said he plans to file a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, which will hear oral arguments in the Colorado case when their term begins in October.