June 26, 2017 WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, in which the Court held that the exclusion of churches from an otherwise available public benefit violates the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trinity Lutheran’s preschool sought to participate in the State of Missouri’s scrap tire program, which would have allowed it to repave its playground with recycled tire pieces in order to provide a softer and safer playground surface for children.
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, offered the following statement in response:
“Today’s decision is a landmark victory for religious freedom. The Supreme Court rightly recognized that people of faith should not be discriminated against when it comes to government programs that should be made available to all. The decision also marks a step in the right direction toward limiting the effects of the pernicious Blaine Amendments that are in place in many states around the country. Blaine Amendments to state constitutions, most of which date back to the nineteenth century, stem from a time of intense anti-Catholic bigotry in many parts of the country. We are glad to see the Supreme Court move toward limiting these harmful provisions, which have restricted the freedom of faith-based organizations and people of faith to serve their communities.”