January 17, 2016

The Supreme Court took a case about shredded tire playground mulch and religion.

The case is Trinity Lutheran Church v. Pauley:
The church involved in the case was denied access to a state program in Missouri that provides playground surface rubber made from old tires.  The refusal was based on a state constitutional provision barring any public funds going to religious groups.   The new case has the potential for a major interpretation of what neutrality involving religion means for public benefits.

23 comments:

Michael K said...

The war on religion is really getting ridiculous. The political left hates Christianity but loves Islam. This is the way insanity begins.

Tom said...

I'm guessing it's more because churches (Christian, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) don't pay taxes that fund the making of said playground mulch. Don't read too much into it Michael K. but there's no "war" in my humble opinion. Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself.

The Wasp said...

And everybody in that church and school pay taxes. Presumably, some of that money goes to fund the rubber supply. It may not be a conscious "war on religion," but it a war on common sense.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Tom said...

I'm guessing it's more because churches... don't pay taxes that fund the making of said playground mulch... Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself.

That would be fine if all non-profits were treated the same. However, if churches are treated differently than other non-taxpaying groups then that's a first amendment violation.

Jason said...

Who else would buy this stuff? Charity groups in charge of parks? Schools? Educational 501c groups? Do they pay taxes?

Jason said...

Would a law that says public funding may not go to African American groups be constitutional?

Are religious Americans not entitled to equal protection?

Can a government function if it never directs public funds to a 501c3 or tax exempt organization of any kind? How would that work?

aritai said...

We're overdue for $1 of tax one vote. Within geographic limits. GPS being ever present and our own pattern of life easily recorded. Don't like your road system, want the potholes fixed. You should be able to vote with your wallet and not just your feet.. Would clean up the muddy thinking that leads to court intervention in everything pretty quickly. My favorite resource on all this is Maurice McTigue past minister of the coalition government that put New Zealand back on the map after the communists had ruined it and they ran out of suckers to borrow money from. Do a web search for McTigue rolling back government pdf. fun story. Never abrogated a contract either. Amazing what happens when you decide telling parents where their children must go to school is a violation of their human rights, and where the citizens decide that the public funds follow the student. It's a great story. Maybe pTb will actually implement Mr. Gore's reinventing government.

Michael K said...

"there's no "war" in my humble opinion. Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself."

I hold no brief for churches and tax exemption. Still, it goes far beyond that and, as others have pointed out, there are other tax exempt organizations, many favored by the anti-religion left, that benefit from simple public services. Should churches have to pave the street that churchgoers use to get there ? It does get a bit ridiculous.

When I lived in New Hampshire, because there was no sales tax, local governments had no interest in having a WalMart or a Costco in their jurisdiction and made the corporations build the infrastructure. The lower taxes are the less important exemption would be.

holdfast said...

"Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself."

Seriously? I just wrote my check with 4th Quarter estimated taxes. There is no way that the government is delivering services to me worth even a fraction of that amount.

n.n said...

They really need to discover the meaning of religious or moral philosophy. The pretense to a secular neutrality is worn and overplayed. There is no one who does not believe and uphold a behavioral protocol. There is no one without faith and, in fact, very few people who constrain their perspective to the very limited scientific frame of reference. And, historically, the people who defer to mortal gods, and pull their faith out of the dark fringes of a penumbra, pose a greater threat to environmental stability, human dignity, human life, and individual liberty.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself.

Or not. Don't pay income tax but do get an Earned Income Credit tax refund.

Tom said...

All points taken and I can't disagree with any. I guess the issue I still have, and I'm only calling Michael out on his "anti-religion left" comment because I see the same comment so often, is Missouri has a democratic governor but the state house is republican (118-44) and the state senate is republican (25-9). I'm not sure when the law was put on the books but the current state congress is what? Pro-religion right? If you would have said the "anti-religion" and left it at that, I probably would have read your comment and moved on. I know democrats who are very involved in their church. I also know republicans who have never stepped foot in one. Please don't generalize who likes/hates what by their political leaning. Again, I fully respect your opinion Michael. I just had a problem with the generalization.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

The way - the *only rational, workable way* to reduce differences as to how Public money should be allocated is to have less public money. That is, less Government.

Ya don't like what the Gummit is doing with your tax money? Don't let them have authority over it.

Mark said...

I'm not sure when the law was put on the books

1875

Theranter said...

FWIW, the program is funded with a fee on new tire purchases:

"...the State of Missouri Scrap Tire Program, which provides grants for certain nonprofit organizations to purchase rubber pour-in-place playground surfaces made from recycled tires. ...The state funds the program through a fee imposed on the sale of new tires, ... and the state uses the program to reduce the amount of used tires in landfills and illegal dump sites.

... The Learning Center provides a playground for the children who attend, ... and children from the surrounding community use it as well, ...The playground surface of pea gravel and grass does not adequately protect the children... also noted that the pour-in-place rubber playground surface was ADA-compliant and would ease and increase access to the playground. ... also ... increasing the safety ...would benefit not only the students of The Learning Center, but also children from the community who use the playground after hours. ...

The DNR ranks each application for the Scrap Tire Program because it only awards a certain number of grants per year. ... DNR received forty-four applications the year... The DNR ranked the Church’s application fifth out of the forty-four applications. ...The DNR awarded fourteen grants that year but denied Trinity a scrap tire grant solely because it is a church. ..."

BobM said...

@Tom said

> I'm guessing it's more because churches (Christian, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) don't pay taxes that fund the making of said playground mulch.

The members of those churches pay taxes on their homes, incomes and purchases. Must every activity in this country now be directly taxed before it is recognized as legitimate? Is that how we decide who may and may not participate in civic life?

Darleen said...

I'm only calling Michael out on his "anti-religion left" comment because I see the same comment so often

Maybe the comment is made so often because the antics of several Leftwing organizations in shrieking "EEK! You said 'God' on public property! Let me SUE YOU" has happened (and happening) often enough to cow even nominal non-leftists into a behavior of rejecting any thing that remotely appears to favor religion (mostly aimed at Christians).

cubanbob said...

Tom said...
I'm guessing it's more because churches (Christian, Islam, Buddhism, etc.) don't pay taxes that fund the making of said playground mulch. Don't read too much into it Michael K. but there's no "war" in my humble opinion. Pay taxes and reap the benefits. Don't pay taxes, buy it yourself.

1/17/16, 8:30 AM

Interesting position. Where it to be actually implemented it would pretty much eliminate the majority of the Democratic Party base.

Joe said...

"The refusal was based on a state constitutional provision barring any public funds going to religious groups."

Seems pretty clear cut to me. If you don't like it, change the state constitution.

Jason said...

Well, we already have a national Constutution that trumps the State's. And it guarantees equal protection.

The Godfather said...

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ." The 14th Amendment has been held to incorporate this provision and make it applicable to the States. It's hard for me to read into this language authority for a State to discriminate against churches by disqualifying them from enjoying a public benefit.

Peter said...

Is the problem that the shredded tires are recognizably Christian shredded tires, or perhaps recognizably made from tires from vehicles once owned by the religiously observant?

If not, it's hard to see how such open discrimination against religious vendors is going to pass Constitutional muster.


Perhaps they could require their vendors to take an oath, such as "I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of any church, synagogue, or other religious organization, or any organization funded, associated with, or allied with any such organization"?

Joe said...

BTW, does the Lutheran church in question realize that by accepting tax dollars, they are also subserviating themselves further to government? What if that money comes with some requirements onerous to the Lutherans. Do they now claim that such requirements violate their freedom of religion?

(All this ignores the fact that the parishioners are such cheap asses that they can't just buy the mulch themselves.)