Religious schools get another chance at state funding in Colorado


The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 Monday that the government can not exclude churches and other faith-based organizations from a secular government program simply due to their religious identity.

"In a surprisingly strong 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), clearly set out that a church does not have to give up its nature as a religious institution to participate in public programs even if a public program is government-funded".

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.
But the state constitution bars the use of public funds for churches, so the application was denied. The Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer case sets a unsafe precedent by allowing the government to support religion with taxpayer money, and brings the nation closer to a Christian theocracy. They argue that the same facts may be described both ways and doubt the Free Exercise Clause should care because it concerns the exercise of religion. Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a 27-page dissenting opinion joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "This case reaffirms that proposition that the State may not single out religious institutions for discrimination".

The Supreme Court handed down an important church-state decision today. Almost 80 percent of the states have Blaine amendments, provisions that discriminate against houses of worship and religious institutions in the distribution of public aid.

The case pitted Trinity Lutheran Church against Missouri's Department of Natural Resources, which offered grants to help nonprofits pay for the resurfacing of playgrounds with recycled tires. Two other justices - Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch - supported almost all of the opinion but not one of the footnotes, while Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a concurring opinion to offer his support for the footnote but not everything else in the opinion.

Voucher advocates believe that line of reasoning opens the way for the high court to rule in favor of allowing public funds to flow to parochial schools.

"This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government - that is, between church and state". But if funding is going to be public, it should be available to everyone.

"This ruling is a win for religious freedom, and for limits on the power of the state", Baptist leader Russell Moore said. This should have been a simple decision: It is clearly unequal treatment of religious Americans under the law to say "the reason you are ineligible for this benefit for which anyone else is eligible is that you are religious".

The justices agreed to hear a case involving a Colorado court's decision to consider whether a baker can refuse to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because he objects to same- sex marriage based on his Christian beliefs.

Cover: The empty playground at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri.

Becket filed a filed a friend-of-the-court brief on the school's behalf as did the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Missouri Catholic Conference, the National Catholic Educational Association, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America and the Salvation Army.