The Supreme Court will soon consider the case of a Missouri Lutheran pre-school which was denied a grant to improve their playground — even though the state program helps other non-profits.
AT ISSUE: Whether the exclusion of churches from a publicly funded aid program violates the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses, if the state cannot establish a sufficiently valid Establishment Clause concern.
THE CASE: A local Christian church — supported by the nonprofit Becket Fund — sued after being denied Missouri state funds to improve the surface of a playground used by its preschool. The program gives grants to nonprofits seeking a safer recreational environment for children. Missouri law prohibits direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation.
The State of Missouri wants to make sure children run on safe playgrounds – unless they attend a religious school.
…the State denied the grant solely because the school is associated with a church. The State cited the Blaine Amendment, an arcane anti-Catholic and bigoted law that prohibits religious affiliated organizations from participating in public programs. This blatant discrimination prompted Trinity Lutheran to sue the state of Missouri in 2013.