The above link is an article that provides an excellent summary of the issues surrounding the case of Trinity Lutheran Church being denied a grant by the state of Missouri for the purpose of funding a safer surface for the playground on their school grounds.
Trinity Lutheran applied for a grant from the state of Missouri for the purpose of purchasing recycled rubber surfacing to protect children playing on their schoolyard playground from the skinned knees and elbows and battered heads that kids often suffer when they fall while running or playing on the playground equipment. Despite earning the fifth highest score among 44 applicants for fourteen grants, Trinity Lutheran was denied the grant solely on the grounds that it is a church-affiliated school. Somehow, those in charge of doling out the grants saw helping keep kids safe on a playground as a violation of the First Amendment’s proscription of state establishment of religion.
If there are any legal experts out there, or just someone with a better memory than I, maybe you can help recall the details of what I thought had already been settled by the SCOTUS decades ago: that the federal government and state governments may provide funds to religious organizations in order to assist those organizations in providing basic, non-sectarian services. So, the state can make funds available to a parochial school for the purpose of purchasing math books, or for the purpose of paying the salary of a math tutor, because teaching math is not a sectarian service, but one that benefits all children and society as a whole.
I’m not sure how that principle got lost in the case of Holy Trinity’s playground. The playground is enjoyed by the entire community, not just the students at the school. Also, the grant money was raised by funds to which the entire community contributed, including the parents of the students at Trinity Lutheran. So, how is it that they are obliged to contribute to the fund, but may not benefit from the fund?
It should be pointed out that the governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, has already changed the state’s policy on this matter, But, the case will go forward to circumvent, hopefully, the same thing happening again. I say “hopefully” in expectation that the Supreme Court will see the wisdom of protecting the right of all citizens to participate in services that benefit the entire community, even if those citizens happen to be members of a church.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.