Get your religion out of my wallet!
The Supreme Court’s ruling Monday to force the state of Missouri to pay to refurbish a church playground is not only wrongheaded, but jeopardizes the most important American principle: the separation of church and state.
Conservatives and their pro-religion enablers are crowing over the 7-2 decision, arguing that it affirms the First Amendment’s protection of religious expression.
But it actually does the opposite: it picks every taxpayer’s pocket and hands the cash to the church. The ruling doesn’t merely affirm the right of religious expression — it underwrites it with your (and, more important, my) money.
The facts in the case — Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer — are not in dispute: In 2012, Trinity Lutheran Church Child Learning Center wanted to replace its gravel playground floor with a safer rubberized mat — and filed to have the renovation work funded under the state’s Scrap Tire Program.
Here’s the Trinity Lutheran Church playground that will now be covered over in rubber — paid for by taxpayers — thanks to a wrongheaded Supreme Court ruling on Monday.
That program reimburses qualifying non-profit organizations to further an important state benefit: making playgrounds safer.
But the program specifically exempted money from “any applicant owned or controlled by a church, sect or other religious entity.”
The church challenged the law in federal court and was at first denied — but won on Monday in the Supreme Court, with Chief Justice Roberts willfully misrepresenting the issue. In his majority opinion, he said that the Missouri ban on funding churches presented Trinity Lutheran with a choice: “It may participate in an otherwise available benefit program or remain a religious institution.”
That’s not the choice at all, especially when you phrase it another way: “Trinity Lutheran may participate in teaching impressionable kids that evolution does not exist, that God created the Earth, that Adam and Eve sinned and tainted us all forever, that Jesus is God’s only son, born to a virgin, and other complete malarky, or it can take advantage of a secular program that is funded by everyone for the benefit of everyone, whether he or she is a Believer or not.”
Black-robbed Crusaders (except for Sotomayor and Ginsburg, that is).
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Indeed, the child care center’s own website says the pre-school is devoted to the children’s “spiritual” growth.
The only two consistently reasonable members of the Court today — Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — were justifiably livid in their repudiation of Roberts and his black-robbed Crusaders.
They alone know that it’s not the job of the public — let alone the public coffers — to ensure children’s “spiritual” growth.
“This case is about nothing less than the relationship between religious institutions and the civil government — that is, between church and state,” the dissenters wrote. “The Court today profoundly changes that relationship by holding that the Constitution requires the government to provide public funds directly to a church.”
Pro-religion wackos protested at the Supreme Court before oral arguments in the Trinty v. Comer case — and they won, meaning that government will have to fund religious activity even more, in violation of our separation of church and state.
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
When the government denies funds to a church, it is not inhibiting religious freedom. But when a government is forced to provide funds to a church, it is explicitly funding religious exercise.
That’s not our law. That’s not our values.
So get your hands off my money, Jesus.