Protecting Religious Liberty Safeguards All Children on the Playground Equally

Apr 18, 2017 by

by Nathaniel Bruno, Public Discourse:

All children are equally valuable. Their bodies are equally deserving of protection, regardless of their religious status.

Are the bodies of children who attend religiously affiliated preschools any less deserving of safety and protection on the playground than those of children who attend preschools with no religious affiliation? Tomorrow the Supreme Court of the United States will consider that question. The Court should strongly protect religious liberty and, in so doing, help safeguard the developing bodies of children on the playground equally—regardless of their religious status.

Oral argument is scheduled for tomorrow in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer. Trinity Lutheran operates a child learning center in Columbia, Missouri, caring for an average of ninety preschool-aged children at any given time. The great majority of those children do not otherwise attend the church. The Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center provides a profound benefit to the community at large by supplying a quality developmental environment, grounded in the faith of its operators, where children from numerous families of various religious backgrounds (or no religious background) are able to learn and thrive.

The surface of the Learning Center’s playground was composed of pea gravel. Several years ago, the center decided to install a new, softer, more forgiving surface. Through the Learning Center, Trinity Lutheran sought a grant from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Solid Waste Management Program to participate in the 2012 Playground Scrap Tire Surface Material Grant Program. The grant program provides a partial reimbursement grant for the specific purpose of using recycled tires to install pour-in-place rubberized surfaces on playgrounds.

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