ICC Note: As previously reported, a church in Missouri requested financial assistance to resurface the playground to make it safer for their preschoolers. They were denied shortly after when they were told that tax dollars could not be used to support any church programs. However, the case eventually reached the Supreme Court which ruled that the church can indeed receive a subsidy from a state program for their playground.
By Andy Walton
06/27/2017 United States (Christian Today) – The Supreme Court has ruled that a playground owned by a Lutheran church can receive a subsidy from a state programme.
Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbus, Missouri, wanted financial help in resurfacing the playground which is used by its pre-school. It qualified for the support from the state but the natural resources department eventually said the money wouldn’t be forthcoming because Missouri’s state constitution bans taxpayer money being used to support churches.
The Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the decision but then the case went to the Supreme Court.
The higher court then reversed the decision and sent the case back to lower courts.
It’s one of the first major cases to be decided since Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, took his place on the bench. As is often the case with such cases, larger organisations lined up to support the opposing sides. The American Civil Liberties Union supported the original decision, while the Alliance Defending Freedom helped with the church’s case.
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Sonia Sotomayor said, ‘The Court today profoundly changes that relationship [between church and state] by holding, for the first time, that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church.’ She went on to argue that, ‘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.’