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Alliance Alert

Mar 17, 2017

The Countdown Begins to the Trinity Lutheran Playground Case at the Supreme Court

We are now approaching what Adam Liptak of The New York Times called "the most interesting case" of this Supreme Court term.

The case will be argued on April 19, less than six weeks away.

Let's remember who this lawsuit will directly impact: the children who use a playground.

The background:

"Trinity Lutheran Church operates a preschool in Missouri. In 2012, Trinity applied for a playground resurfacing grant from the state. Obtaining the grant would allow Trinity to receive reimbursement for resurfacing its playground with a safer pour-in-place rubber surface made from recycled tires.

"The state awarded 14 grants that year, but while Trinity’s application was ranked 5th out of 44 applications, the church was denied. Missouri determined that its state establishment clause forbids it from providing an available benefit to children—a safe playground surface—simply because the playground is on church property."

A religious group should not be excluded from a government program simply because the group is religious.

Over at the ADF blog, Marissa Mayer has three things you may not know about the case. Here's just one:

"When the state rejected Trinity Lutheran, it put both religious and non-religious children at risk.

"Trinity Lutheran’s preschool has an 'open gate' policy to neighborhood families after-hours and on the weekends, just like many public schools. But the kids and families that benefit from the playground are finding that their faith, or the faith of the people who own the playground, disqualifies them from fair and equal treatment by the government. Is that the lesson we want to be teaching our communities?

"The state’s argument that providing the grant to Trinity Lutheran would violate separation of church and state and provide illegal aid to religion, simply doesn’t hold.  Community safety, especially for children, is not a religious issue—it is a public safety issue."

For more information about the case, you can check out There you will find news, a symposium on the case, frequently asked questions, and more.

  • religious freedom
  • Case:Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer
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