This morning, the Supreme Court of the U.S. sided with Trinity Lutheran Church in its complaint against the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. The State refused to allow the church to participate in a recycled tire program to reimburse the facility for upgrading its playground equipment. The church argued that, because it was a generally available benefit (or at least the application to participate was generally available based on criterion the church met), denying them the ability to participate simply because of who they were (and not what they were doing) was unconstitutional.
On first read, this is an encouraging decision as it establishes that, in general, participation by Christian schools (and other religious entities) in generally available programs should be allowed. Any program that coerces a religious organization to change who they are or a program that discriminates based solely on a person’s or entity’s religious affiliation is not one that honors the American value of avoiding a state-sanctioned religion but one that simply chooses winners and losers based on intolerance of religion participating in the public square.
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