The god problem is “More than just a playground dispute”

I read SCOTUSblog, an invaluable resource for anyone concerned with or fascinated by Supreme Court thinking and decisions, as well as the nature of cases that make it up to the Court.

This one just knocks me out. Not only is it worthy of a Supreme Court review–the plaintiff, a church in Missouri, got decisions against it in two federal courts, which is why it made its way to Supreme–the issue is, to me, The god Problem.

I find the church’s arguments invoking the First Amendment to justify its demand that the State of Missouri pay for a playground surface–Missouri had grant money to provide rubber surfaces from recycled tires in playgrounds–twisted in its logic.

See what you think. Rather, I’m asking if you can find the hole in the church’s logic. Several holes, actually.

As a big bonus, Amy Howe, who wrote the discussion for SCOTUSblog, writes so clearly and so well even non-lawyers like me can understand it completely. I’m always grateful.

Source: Introduction: More than just a playground dispute : SCOTUSblog

Here’s Amy Howe’s concise description of the argument:

The church argues that its exclusion from a state program that provides grants to help non-profits buy rubber playground surfaces violates the Constitution, because it discriminates against religious institutions.  The state counters that there is no constitutional violation, because the church can still worship or run its daycare as it sees fit – the state just isn’t going to pay to resurface the playground.

And a further paragraph further describing how supporters of the church and supporters of the state see this argument:

Supporters on both sides of the case predict that dire consequences will flow from a ruling for the other side.  “Friends of the court” briefs backing the church argue that, if the lower court’s ruling and the program are upheld, everything from school vouchers and fire and safety protection for private religious schools to social services – such as battered women’s shelters and soup kitchens – provided by faith-based organizations that receive public funds could be in jeopardy.  On the other side, the state’s supporters contend that a ruling for the church would effectively bar the government from treating churches differently – “an approach that among other things would invalidate provisions in thirty-nine state constitutions” – and could result in taxpayer funds going to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation or religion.


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