In favor of Trinity Lutheran, the Supreme Court ruled that a government program cannot require a church “to renounce its religious character in order to participate in an otherwise generally available public benefit program for which it is fully qualified…”
In its decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer this week, the Supreme Court took another significant step in furthering its contemporary jurisprudence emphasizing the free exercise of religion.
Trinity Lutheran Church operates a daycare and early-learning center on its church property in Boone County, Missouri. The church explicitly states that its early learning program is one of its ministries and that it includes “daily religion…activities” according to “a Christian worldview.” The church applied to a program of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for a grant to repave its playground with recycled automobile tires.
Denying the grant solely because the applicant was a church, the state of Missouri cited a section of the Missouri Constitution which provides: “That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister, or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect, or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship.”
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