Photo: Church on the Green in Hackensack Credit: KForce/Wikipedia
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal out of New Jersey surrounding whether or not it is permissible for a county to grant funds to historic churches for repair of their facilities. However, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, along with Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, opined that the case is of interest and that the subject matter should be decided “at some point” as it seemingly “raises serious questions” about equality and wrongful “discrimination against religion.”
“In my view, the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court is in serious tension with this Court’s religious equality precedents,” Kavanaugh wrote. “As this court has repeatedly held, governmental discrimination against religion—in particular, discrimination against religious persons, religious organizations, and religious speech—violates the Free Exercise Clause and the Equal Protection Clause.”
“Barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion,” he stated.
As previously reported, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and FFRF member David Steketee had filed suit against Morris County, New Jersey in 2015 to challenge the allotment of funds to churches in the county through the Historic Preservation Trust Fund. The organization specifically challenged the $1.04 million granted to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church in Morristown.
St. Peter’s had stated in its application that the funds would be used to “ensure continued safe public access to the church for worship, periods of solitude and meditation during the
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