WASHINGTON, June 26, 2017—The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 today in favor of Trinity Lutheran Church in the religious liberty case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia Inc. v. Comer, upholding that the state cannot deny an institution a public benefit simply because of its religious status.
“Today's decision is a triumph for religious freedom and a victory not just for this church, and not just for people of faith, but for all who believe American citizens should be treated equally by their government,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“This case was about fair play: do religious organizations have access to the public square, or will they be penalized for holding religious convictions? I oppose any establishment or funding of religion, but a house of worship taking advantage of a universally accessible program does not constitute an establishment. Throughout our nation’s history, churches have been at the forefront of American life serving their communities. I'm glad this ruling insists that no American—whether religious or not—should be disadvantaged simply because of what they believe. The Supreme Court got this right, and the only unfortunate thing about this case is that a principle so foundational to basic American freedoms would even be in question.”
Trinity Lutheran Church was denied government funds to resurface its playground for preschoolers due to a provision in Missouri's constitution that bars state funding for religious entities. The church argued that the government funds were used to support a secular government objective: ensuring the children’s safety.