Foundation Claims Victory in Church Playground Case
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MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 26, 2017 /Standard Newswire (http://morallaw NULL.us10 NULL.list-manage NULL.com/track/click?u=b72e11e92141d4d6306c8aa3e&id=32b23c7179&e=97a75d12cd)/ — The Foundation for Moral Law, a Montgomery-based legal foundation dedicated to religious liberty, hailed the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church as a victory for religious liberty.
In this case, the State of Missouri had made scrap tire materials available to schools to spread over playgrounds to make them safer for children. Trinity had applied for a grant for the playground of its affiliated Learning Center, but the State denied the grant, claiming that a provision of the Missouri Constitution prohibits aid to churches. Trinity sued the State of Missouri, claiming the refusal constituted a violation of the church’s right to free exercise of religion.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church. In his plurality opinion, Chief Justice Roberts held that Missouri’s policy “expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients by disqualifying them from a public benefit solely because of their religious character.” This, he said, forces the Church to either cease operating as a church or lose eligibility for a substantial state benefit. Roberts said this violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.
Foundation President Kayla Moore hailed the ruling as “a victory for religious persons of all varieties. It enables churches to continue providing educational services to the children of their members and others.”
Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe added: “Trinity Lutheran Church did not seek any special benefits from the State of Missouri. It sought only to be included on an equal basis in a state program that is available to all. This case reaffirms that proposition that the State may not single out religious institutions for discrimination.”
The Foundation submitted an amicus brief on December 7, 2015. The Court agreed to hear the case shortly thereafter and has now ruled in favor of the church.