Newly confirmed to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch will be hitting the ground running. Gorsuch along with the eight other Justices of the Court will rule on many cases. Their decisions will shape this Nation. One of the first cases Gorsuch will be involved in will be Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley.
Trinity Lutheran applied for monies from a state grant offered by Missouri to nonprofit groups seeking to provide a safer recreational environment for children. It was Trinity Lutheran’s wish to replace the gravel on their preschool playground with recycled rubber. Although Trinity Lutheran is a nonprofit and did intend to use the funds to make a safer play area for preschool children they were denied funds due to their religious affiliation.
It is clear that ground covered with rubber is much safer for children than when covered with gravel. That is the only thing clear about the grounds of this case. We now have nine Justices well versed in the law to debate and rule on the legalities of the matter. We will have to trust them to rule appropriately.
All children require a safe environment to play in. To exclude children based on religion seems discriminatory. Safe playgrounds across this country are utilized by children after hours. Neighborhood children congregate at the closest one irregardless of their religious affiliations
President John F. Kennedy once said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. If Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbus, Inc. is willing to step up to the plate and provide a needed service should they be penalized for practicing what they preach?
The issue is much larger than the needs of a preschool playground. Religious organizations provide many services. Homeless shelters, free meals to those in need, elderly outreach, food banks and much more rely on their generosity.
To exclude these bastions of good deeds from State and Federal funding simply because of a religious affiliation hurts those most in need. Although it may be due to the religious beliefs of those providing the service, that they do so. The services they provide have nothing to do with religion.
The First Amendment to the Constitution means the following:
- Congress can’t establish a religion
- Congress can’t stop free exercise of religion
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of the press
- Right to PEACEFULLY assemble
- Right to complain about the government
What the First Amendment doesn’t say is anything about the separation of Church and State. That was Thomas Jefferson’s opinion written in a letter. Nothing more.
Up until June 25, 1962 all American children started their school day pledging their allegiance to the United States of America and a prayer. Having been one of those children privileged enough to pray each morning in a public school I can attest to the fact June 25, 1962 was a sad day for the United States.
At a time in our history when school children were frightened under their desks on a regular basis for “duck and cover” drills school prayer was taken from them. The comfort received by a daily reminder that God or the Supreme Being of any faith was there to protect us was gone. The acknowledgement of a higher power was muted.
Then came the birth of “political correctness”. Parents of ten children sued New York because they were offended by prayer. Forget that my mother of four children and the parents of the great majority of school children wanted their children to pray. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Engel v. Vitale that school prayer violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
In an attempt to placate a handful the Supreme Court trampled the rights of the majority to exercise their religious freedoms. “One Nation Under God” should be allowed to worship freely any place they see fit including schools.
It is no wonder that parents of Christian children are up in arms upon learning that although the Supreme Court does not allow their children to pray in public schools, Muslim children are given rooms to pray in. It is not because they are against Muslim children praying. It is because all other children are not afforded equal rights.
Either it is unconstitutional for children to pray in school or it is not. For a nation to print “In God We Trust” on our currency it is not very Christian like not to let children pray.
Let all the children pray. There is a solution to every problem. Larger schools could have home rooms of different faiths. Leaders of all represented faiths could come up with a suitable children’s prayer. Muslim Mondays, Catholic Tuesdays, Jewish Wednesdays….. Find a way.
Like the song says “red or yellow, black or white they are all precious in his sight”. Maybe if children were exposed to other religions they would grow into more tolerant adults. It is sure worth a try. Pitting one faith against another is not the American way.