Missouri Church Scores Major Supreme Court Victory

June 27, 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court has just awarded a major victory to Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri. The church, which operates a child learning center, brought a legal challenge against the state after being denied participation in a state grant program for playground equipment solely due to the church’s religious status.

The Court found in a 7-2 decision written by Chief Justice Roberts that, under strict scrutiny review, the church’s Free Exercise rights under the First Amendment were violated because there was no compelling interest to justify the state’s policy of excluding religious groups. The Court went on to express that this denial from the state’s grant program simply because Trinity Lutheran happens to be a church is “odious to our Constitution . . . and cannot stand.”

Attorney Nate Adams (Holland & Knight) writes, “The ruling is likely to impact many types of religious institutions eligible to participate in a variety of social services and educational programs but which are currently barred from doing so because they are religious.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom represented the church in the case, and on the same day as the Trinity Lutheran decision, had another important religious freedom case approved by the Court to be heard in its next term – Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

For more information on these two critical cases involving religious freedom, visit http://www.adflegal.org/.


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