One of the first cases to be heard by recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch involves a Christian preschool in Missouri that was denied state funds to improve a playground because of its religious affiliation.
After being denied the funds, Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri, launched a suit against the state, arguing that the denial amounted to a double standard, especially given that neighborhood children not even affiliated with the school also frequently used the playground, according to the Baptist Press.
Statements made this week by Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church Inc. v. Comer suggested that he intended to vote in favor of religious liberty, would which be a huge victory for the millions of Christians across the nation.
This particular case concerned a Christian preschool in Missouri that was denied state funds, because of its religious affiliation, from an aid program to improve a playground. After being denied the funds, Trinity Lutheran Church filed suit against the state, arguing that the denial amounted to a double standard.
The case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court, where this week Justice Gorsuch remarked about the dichotomy created by the church being denied funds from “selective government programs” while government-funded police officers and firefighters were allowed to aid church-affiliated schools as part of “general programs.”
How is it that discrimination on the basis of religious exercise is better in selective government programs than general programs?” he asked, after which he asked whether the court could “draw the line between selective and general.”
“Well, discrimination on the basis of status of religion, there’s no line-drawing problem there,” he added. “We know that’s happened in this case, right?”
According to Slate, by making these remarks Gorsuch “essentially tipped his hand” by making it clear that in his estimate, “Missouri’s refusal to fund Trinity Lutheran’s new playground is religious discrimination.”
I think he asked a very good question… if you can draw lines on programs which are specific and can be targeted to churches or non-churches then find you have programs which can’t be targeted then you have to clarify how you’re setting the bar and defining when an institution is religious and cannot receive funds or resources or help (his assessment of general programs). It’a a good question.