Eviscerating a Healthy Church-State Separation
51 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2018 Last revised: 23 Sep 2019
Date Written: 2019
In June of 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued one of its first major church-state rulings in some time. In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, it held that the federal Free Exercise Clause required the State of Missouri to provide direct funding to an arm of a church despite an anti-establishment clause in the Missouri Constitution which barred it. This article argues that the decision was contrary to American constitutional history at both the federal and state level, was not faithful to Court precedent in this area, and was contrary to sound constitutional policy in the area of church-state relations. Most importantly, it argues that the Court’s reasoning will open the door to increased governmental funding of churches and other devotional communities, all to the detriment of a healthy separation of church and state that is vital for religion to thrive and the state to properly perform its functions.
Keywords: church-state separation, church-state relations, religious freedom, public funding of religious institutions, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, Locke v. Davey, Free Exercise Clause, Establishment Clause, anti-establishment clauses, First Amendment, individual rights, constitutional
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