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US Bishops File Amicus Brief in Missouri Religious Discrimination Case

Lutheran school denied grant for playground because of its religious affiliation

On April 21, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Missouri Catholic Conference, and other Catholic and non-Catholic organizations filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in a case entitled Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley.

The case involves a Free Exercise Clause challenge to a decision by the State of Missouri denying a grant for playground resurfacing to an otherwise eligible religious school solely because of its religious affiliation.

The brief says: “Missouri’s religious discrimination not only contravenes the First Amendment, it is profoundly demeaning to people of faith. Official discrimination based on religion is no less invidious or stigmatizing than discrimination based on other protected traits. It sends a message that religious people and their institutions are second-class citizens who deserve special disabilities and are not entitled to participate on equal terms in government programs. Allowing illusory Establishment Clause concerns to trump the prohibition on religious discrimination would invite state officials to invoke those concerns as a pretext for penalizing religious groups whose beliefs or practices diverge from government-prescribed orthodoxy.”

Other organizations joining the brief are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, National Catholic Educational Association, Salvation Army National Corporation, and General Synod of the Reformed Church in America.

The full text of the amicus brief is available at: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/amicus-briefs/upload/Trinity-Luthern-Church-v-Pauley.pdf.

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