On Wednesday morning the Supreme Court heard testimony in the Trinity Lutheran v. Comer case, which will decide whether federal funds can be used to support religious-affiliated schools.
In Missouri a Lutheran church applied for state funding so it could refurbish a playground but was told that the state Constitution forbids supporting a religious institution.
Missouri’s governor later reversed that law, but not before the case wound up before the Supreme Court. Its decision could weigh heavily on how religious schools could function – or not function, depending on the ruling.
The case is “one of the most important religious liberty cases before the Supreme Court in years,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, before a rally outside the Supreme Court Wednesday.
“A loss here at the Supreme Court could mean that religious nonprofits could be excluded from government programs meant to serve the community,” she told the crowd at the rally.
“This is like telling the fire department they couldn’t put out a fire because it’s at a church,” she added.
Nance is not the only one who has raised that question. Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer has expressed a concern that if federal funding is denied to a religious affiliation, could that not also mean a denial of public safety services?
But if the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trinity Lutheran, it could open the door for families to use school vouchers to pay for a religious education.
“This will mean good things for the school choice movement in our country,” said Hillary Byrnes, assistant general counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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