In the shadow of this week’s Supreme Court decision on President Trump’s travel restrictions, another important decision was handed down. The second one has the potential to significantly influence religious liberty in our country. The Court ruled that a particular Lutheran church was unduly discriminated against when it was denied public funding to refurbish a playground.
At the heart of the case was a decision by the state of Missouri not to grant a funding request by a church to improve the safety of their playground from resources set aside for non-profits for just this purpose. The request was refused because the asking party was a church. The grantor declared that if the request was approved it would be a violation of the separation of church-and-state clauses of the Constitution. The lower courts agreed.
This may seem to be a trivial decision since it is based on a relatively small dollar amount and a perceived trivial matter – a playground. However, as stated by Archbishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, this decision “is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all.”
What is perceived is a constitutional separation of church-and-state that is infiltrating our nation. We applaud the highest court for seeing this case for what it was: a deliberate persecution of a religious institution. This case is also just one of many that elucidate the threat from of an extreme liberalization of our courts for the past several years.