Christian School Prevented From ‘Safe Playground’ Program Because of Faith
Scholars and lawyers alike are quick to quote the phrase, "separation of church and state," when it comes to religious institutions seeking protections from the government or equal rights. Even though the U.S. proudly proclaims itself as a haven for religious freedom, there are injustices occurring every day against religious groups in America.
One such injustice involves a state-run scrap tire program and the Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Missouri.
First, the tire program.
Citizens in Missouri pay a special fee when they purchase new tires that goes towards the disposal of the tires. In this specific case, that fee is used to help fund a program that allows playgrounds and schools to apply for grants to replace concrete and gravel playground areas with safe, kid-friendly rubber that results in fewer injuries for the children.
The grants are given to schools based on need, how the recycled rubber will be used, and how poor the surrounding children in the area are.
Now the church that is being discriminated against.
The Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia applied for one of the state-run grants that would allow them to receive the rubber pellets to replace the gravel in their playground. The church runs a child center with an attached playground and the center's administrators applied for the grant in 2012.
Their application, however, was denied because the childhood center is run by a church. The denial came with a reference to the wrongness of a state-run program providing help to a church.
However, the case is now going before the U.S. Supreme Court thanks to lawyers from the Alliance Defending Freedom. One of their most poignant arguments is that, by declaring neutrality in the situation, the state-run program "defines neutrality as treating religious organizations worse than everyone else."
All citizens in the area, both those who go to the Lutheran church in question and those who are atheists, pay for the new tire tax program. It stands to reason, then, that all groups who stand to benefit from the program and can demonstrate the need required should be allowed to receive the rubber.
This will be one of the landmark Supreme Court cases to watch out for.
Photo Credits: Flickr