A playground in Missouri is becoming a political minefield. “Only one religious freedom case is currently before the Supreme Court this upcoming term: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley,” the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) notes. “Trinity Lutheran is a case about a religious preschool that was rejected from a state program that provides reimbursement grants to purchase rubberized surface material (tire scraps) for children’s playgrounds.”
“The preschool was ultimately denied the grant for its playground solely because the playground belongs to a religious organization.” The ADF is a national network of lawyers who undertake religious liberty cases.
The playground is attached to the Child Learning Center day care at the church but open to the entire community, David Cortman, senior counsel of the ADF, pointed out in a symposium that the group held on Friday, September 16, 2016. Indeed, he noted that 95% of the children who use the playground do not attend the church.
At the conference, C. Kevin Marshall, who is working with Cortman on the case, noted that the church was told that they were ranked fifth out of 44 applicants in the state by the state agency. Daniel Mach, of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argued that the government has never given direct subsidies to a church.