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ADL, Americans United for Separation of Church and State call Missouri directive unconstitutional

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The Anti-Defamation League of Missouri/Southern Illinois joined last week with Americans United for Separation of Church and State St. Louis Chapter to express profound disappointment at Gov. Eric Greitens’ recent directive to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources allowing religious organizations to apply for and receive DNR grants.

 

On the eve of oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, the governor provokes exactly the issue being addressed, whether or not such grants violate separation of church and state.

“Missouri is not obligated to give a grant to a church for the purpose of refurbishing its religious preschool’s playground,” Americans United said in a friend-of-the-court brief in which the Anti-Defamation League joined.  

Karen Aroesty, ADL regional director, is dismayed. 

“Governor Grietens opens a can of constitutionally entangled worms in direct violation of the Missouri Constitution, where it states ‘That no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect or denomination of religion, or in aid of any priest, preacher, minister or teacher thereof, as such; and that no preference shall be given to nor any discrimination made against any church, sect or creed of religion, or any form of religious faith or worship. Const. of 1875, Art. II, § 7.’ ”

Cynthia Holmes, AU St. Louis Chapter president, and The Rev. Rudy Pulido, AU National Leadership Council, agree.

“DNR’s purpose is to use Missouri tax dollars to protect our great natural resources. The thought of religious groups in the unseemly spectacle of competing for such dollars is unsettling. This is not simply bad law; it is bad public policy. Government using the taxpayer dollars of all to fund the work of any religious entity threatens the religious liberty of all.”

ADL’s national mission is to stop the defamation of the Jewish people, and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. The Missouri/Southern Illinois region was established in 1958 and is headquartered in St. Louis. More information can be found at stlouis.adl.org.  

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is dedicated to preserving church-state separation as the only way to ensure religious freedom for all. More information may be found at au.org.