The Supreme Court, in a 7-2 ruling, decided that the state of Missouri unconstitutionally discriminated against Trinity Lutheran Church by denying them funds from a program that benefited playgrounds solely because Trinity Lutheran is a church.
Trinity had applied to receive money from a fund set up by the state to they could resurface their playground with rubber, making the playground safer for the children who play there. After ranking the various applicants for the money, Missouri ranked Trinity’s application in the top five. Fourteen organizations were set to receive funds. But, in spite of having a high ranking, Trinity was denied the funds because it is a church. This in spite of the fact that the fund is created by tax money, to which members of Trinity Lutheran contribute, and that the playground is used by the entire community and not limited to members of the church.
The Justices rightly likened the funds for the playground to other secular services churches receive, also supported by tax money, such as police and fire services. Can you imagine the consequences if the state decided that churches were no longer eligible for fire service because they’re a church, even though members of that church contribute taxes to support the fire department? How ridiculous is that?
Providing a rubber surface for a playground supports the establishment of religion only by stretching the establishment clause to a meaningless length. If that were the case, then even the existence of churches would constitute an establishment of religion, since churches are subject to all kinds of regulations of the state: zoning laws, building codes, etc… A city extending a permit for a church to even be built would constitute an establishment of religion under that interpretation.
The Supreme Court made the right decision here. Even the state of Missouri acknowledged such, since it has since changed the policy and most state lawmakers are in agreement that the previous policy discriminated against churches.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.