Supreme Court rules for Missouri church in playground case

The Supreme Court has ruled that churches have the same right as other charitable groups to seek state money for new playground surfaces and other non-religious needs

"This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit exclusively on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion", Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority decision.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Mo., wanted to participate in a state program that reimburses the cost of rubberizing the surface of playgrounds.

Missouri turned down the church's funding application because of a provision in its state constitution 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".

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that, while the state policy "is nothing so dramatic as the denial of political office", it is also true "the exclusion of Trinity Lutheran from a public benefit for which it is otherwise qualified, exclusively because it is a church, is odious to our Constitution all the same, and can not stand". Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented in an opinion larger than the majorities, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg joining the dissent.

In 2012, Trinity Lutheran applied for a grant to modify the playground surface at the church's Learning Center, but their grant was rejected later that year.

Secular groups like Americans United for Separation of Church and State expressed concern about the case, arguing that Trinity Lutheran v. Comer could be a "serious threat to religious freedom".

Korean IOC member douses expectations on collaboration for Pyeongchang 2018
The South Korean sports minister has proposed forming a joint women's ice hockey team as a show of Korean unity. Moon attended the 2017 championships opening ceremony in Muju, South Korea.

Some states with the same restriction as Missouri already allow churches to participate in programs that are generally applicable to the public and are for secular benefits such as health and safety.

"This religious exclusion wrongfully sends a message that some children are less worthy of protection simply because they enjoy recreation on a playground owned by a church", said David Cortman of Alliance Defending, a conservative organization representing the church.

Layton said that while the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from prohibiting the free exercise of religion, "It does not guarantee churches opportunities for public financing".

A group representing Christian schools said a victory for Missouri could jeopardize government-funded loans to students who attend religiously affiliated colleges, including Brigham Young University, Georgetown, and Yeshiva University. The grants buy recycled tires to resurface playgrounds. A district court ruled in favor of the DNR and a three judge panel of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals concurred.

The decision could doom provisions in 39 states that prohibit spending tax dollars to support churches.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Ezekiel Elliott, Julian Edelman among featured athletes in ESPN's Body Issue
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:59
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot is among the 23 athletes featured in the annual ESPN The Magazine Body Issue . Needham native and Olympic gold medal victor Aly Raisman has also appeared in the " Body Issue ".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Oil edges up towards data on reserves and production in US
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:57
West Texas Intermediate for July delivery was at $44.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 3 cents, at 10:01 a.m. Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the OPEC-led production deal to ensure oil revenue flows to national security efforts.

Almost 100 remain missing after deadly China landslide
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:56
In May 2008, a magnitude 7.9 quake killed almost 90,000 people in Wenchuan County, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Mao County. Earlier, 15 bodies were retrieved by hundreds of rescuers trying to find survivors after the landslide engulfed the village.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top WWE RAW Preview (6/26/17): 5 Things To Watch For
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:53
John Cena is now deemed as a free agent and he is expected to appear on both Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live to boost ratings. Great Balls Of Fire is right around the corner, so WWE's flagship brand is scurrying to get everything lined up for July's PPV.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trudeau to march in Toronto Pride Parade for a second time
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:51
Multiple Twitter users noted that they were "jealous of Canada " and desirous of Trudeau's style of leadership. Two of the Trudeaus' children could be seen marching along with their parents.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top 18 protesters arrested for blocking Minnesota freeway after Philando Castile verdict
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:51
Mr Yanez and his family, meanwhile, quietly slipped out of the courthouse and into a van before leaving without taking questions. Yanez fired seven bullets into Castile's auto shortly after the 32-year-old black man disclosed that he was carrying a firearm.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Brussels station attacker was Moroccan, 'known to police'
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:49
Brussels Central Station reopened this morning as station personnel were seen cleaning the spot where the attack took place. A police command vehicle and several officers were still at the station, an Associated Press photographer said.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Chinese troops transgress along Sikkim sector; jostles with Indian Army, destroys bunkers
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:47
Incidentally, Chinese troops had also destroyed a few makeshift bunkers of the Indian Army in the Doka La region in November 2007. A video of the stand-off between the two sides has existed; however, Zee News does not guarantee the authenticity of the video.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier set to leave home port
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:45
Critics claim the ships are expensive white elephants that are too vulnerable to new high-speed missiles. The first task is for sailors to get the ship out of the Bay in which it was built.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top South Koreans march to protest US missile defence system
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:42
An ICBM is a guided ballistic missile, conventionally named for their minimum range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles. South Korean President Moon Jae-in says his country needs "the security capability to dominate North Korea ".

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Pandora CEO Tim Westergren To Exit
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:42
The company had 31.6 million subscribers at the end of Q1 of 2017, and expects to add 1.3 million paying subscribers in 2017. Pandora Premium, the company's on-demand service began in March but continues to trail its rival.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene distances himself from India coach job
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:37
The BCCI has set the team's tour to Sri Lanka in July-August as the deadline before which the new India coach needs to be picked. Another name to crop up was that of Mahela Jayawardene but the Sri Lankan batting maestro has quickly quashed any such rumour.

Image: Arsenal use Mesut Ozil praying to deliver their Eid festival message
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:37
May Allah rewards all those who fast religiously during the holy month of Ramadan and showers them with countless blessings. Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during that month.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Seattle police shoot dead pregnant black woman
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:35
Police say the officers went to the apartment Sunday morning, and, at some point, were confronted by a woman armed with a knife. After shooting Lyles , the unnamed officers reportedly administered CPR, but were unable to revive her.

Army firing in Gorkhaland protest kills 3
Jun 26, 2017 - 17:32
After several violence-filled days, Darjeeling remained calm on Sunday, with hundreds of police and army men posted on its roads. There were reports of death of an assistant commandant of the India Reserve Battalion but the death has not been confirmed yet.