Author: Austin Stanfel
A church in Missouri was denied access to public funds when it applied for aid from the government to resurface the flooring at its playground. Before the change to this amendment was made churches were excluded from any state programs that other charitable groups would have been eligible for.
As its final decision before the Supreme Court ended it decided that not allowing religious congregations to have access to these funds was ‘too far’. In all other way this Missouri Lutheran church was more than qualified to receive the state programs funds to aid fixing their playground, the application rejection came purely because they were a religious institution. Unfortunately this is the constitution in at least three dozen other states around America.
As previously mentioned this case was one of the final cases for the season – a season being the Supreme Court completing all the cases chosen for the term. As well as a positive outcome for churches and state programs, it was also an important day for a member of the court who goes by the name Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who nearly always has the deciding vote. It was expected that after already serving 30 years in court he would be retiring this year but that was not the case. His leaving would work in favor for the now president Donald Trump as he prefers a court that is more conservative than the current one, and the retirement of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy would set that in motion.
Although a close decision, those who were on the losing side were left with a bad taste in their mouth. Some of those affected relinquished their position on the bench, but not before explaining their reasons. Much of which was explaining how combining state and church results in a weaker nation, one where the tax payers money doesn’t go where it should, but can be shared by houses of worship. Others who voted in favor believe that it now leaves an opening for other religious sects and groups to feel like they can make a stand for what they believe to be right. And, apply for the court to hear their appeals. Some declared that it showed a form of religious discrimination, while other said that was too narrow a view to have for this decision.
“Some states with the same restrictions as Missouri already allow churches to participate in programmes that are generally applicable to the public and are for secular benefits such as health and safety.”
It can be said that the constitution and first amendment are in place for a reason, many has argued that there is a separation between state and church for a reason. And that it should remain so. Leaving the upkeep of churches down to the church goers. Due to the new republican government churches are now allowed to partake in state programs just like their other charitable counterparts.