(Washington, DC, July 6, 2016)—The American Humanist Association supports the state of Missouri’s decision to only provide grants to secular organizations in the United States Supreme Court case Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley. The case concerns the state’s refusal to give a grant to Trinity Lutheran Church’s preschool to refurbish its playground.
“When Missouri taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for religious organizations, it violates their freedom of conscience, one of our nation’s most cherished liberties,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “Giving preferential treatment to religion by providing public funds is wrong.”
David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, said, “The Constitution requires a strict separation of church and state, so Missouri must exclude religious organizations from its grant programs to uphold the Establishment Clause. State support of churches with public money creates a dangerous intermingling of religion and government that our First Amendment was created to guard against.”
In an amicus curiae brief submitted to the US Supreme Court, the American Civil Liberties Union, American Humanist Association and four other civil liberties and church-state separation organizations defend the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management, which offers grants to organizations wishing to purchase recycled tire rubber to resurface playgrounds. The program does not fund organizations that are operated by churches or religious groups because doing so would violate the separation of church and state demanded by Missouri State Constitution and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. When the state denied a grant application from Trinity Lutheran Church’s preschool, the church claimed religious discrimination.