State to Pay For Church Playground Improvement?

Discussion in 'Off-topic' started by gunsmoker, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    A question about constitutional law to kick around:

    May the State include church-owned (and church-operated) playgrounds in a program that offers grants to subsidize the high costs of renovating the playgrounds to improve their safety to the children?

    KEY FACT: The particular church at issue here has always let the general public use its playground, and the overwhelming majority of families that use it are not affiliated with the church, but are just folks from the surrounding community. The playground is treated by the community as if it were a public park, though it is not.


    The PRO-CHURCH side says:
    No problem here. This is not an Establishment of Religion issue. The government would be promoting playground safety with this grant money, not promoting any religion or belief system. Except a belief that kids should have safer places to play, which we can all agree on. Other non-government entities that operate playgrounds can get this funding. Why can't we?

    The WALL OF SEPARATION side says:
    Big problem here. The government is going to start funding churches! Taxpayer money going right to a church. Even if the money is earmarked only for the playground, that frees up the church's own money to use to teach and promote religion. We need a strict wall of separation. The church is 100% responsible for its own playground, and if they want the best materials and equipment for it, let them pay for it.


    Website & article from the legal aid society funding the Church's lawsuit:

    http://www.adfmedia.org/News/PRDetail/8831

    Article from an anti-religion group, advocating that the church should lose:
    http://religiousliberty.tv/7222.html

    (Note that the article above was published in January of 2016, probably composed some time before that, and it mentions that Justice Scalia will be be among those on the Supreme Court when this case is argued).


    Two prior Supreme Court cases indicate that, if Scalia were still on the Court, the church would prevail.
    The government program in question would still be "neutral" if it were to allow church playgrounds to get such grants, and the primary purpose of the playground is neutral and secular, without unnecessary religious overtones.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelman_v._Simmons-Harris

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_v._Helms

    Both of the above cases were very close decisions. One was a 5-4 split, and the other case had NO majority opinion, but a plurality of the justices agreed on the final result, if not the reasoning. Without Scalia, these would likely have resulted in a very different outcome.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  2. FrontSight

    FrontSight Well-Known Member

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    Could this be done on a contractual basis?

    Example: Church agrees to allow public use of playground and gov agrees to maintain equipment and property for safe use. Should church renege on the contract (by placing restrictions outside of contract terms), gov is entitled to be reimbursed all monies used for said purposes, less reasonable depreciation within a short period of time.
     

  3. UtiPossidetis

    UtiPossidetis American

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    I like the way you think!
     
  4. psrumors

    psrumors Well-Known Member

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    Or maybe the government shouldn't be rehabbing any playground. If the people who utilize it want it to be updated let them fund it....
     
  5. Wegahe

    Wegahe NRA Instructor

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    Start charging user fees like state and national parks do. Private, city and county parks should not be receiving state funds for upkeep or rehab of private or local parks.
     
  6. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    Let's do the same for everything else too. Call 911? That's $500. Get arrested? $1000 for jail services. Win at trial? $10,000 for use of the courtroom, judge, and prosecutor.
     
  7. psrumors

    psrumors Well-Known Member

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    In exchange for no taxes?
     
  8. Rugerer

    Rugerer GeePeeDoHolic

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    Specifically excluding the church because of religion is no different than specifically supporting a church because of religion. In either case, the law is "respecting" the establishment of religion. The terms of the grant should be completely religion-agnostic. If a private preschool or other such member organization is eligible for the grant, for the benefit of its members, then the church should be no different. Scrub all religious references and grade its eligibility solely on the rules of the grant.

    Excluding the church would be no different than excluding religious groups from using school facilities. If the 4H club can use an classroom meeting place, a student bible study can too.

    http://law.justia.com/constitution/us/amendment-01/04-access-to-public-property.html
     
  9. Mrs_Esterhouse

    Mrs_Esterhouse Swollen Member

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    Consider for a second that instead of a Christian church, the institution is a mosque. Would you feel comfortable with the state releasing public funds to improve private property at a mosque? I would not.

    Consider for a second that instead of a Christian church, the institution is a Satanic church. Would you feel comfortable with the state releasing public funds to improve private property at a Satanic church? I would not.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  10. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    Let the church deed the playground property to the state (for a fixed time for pro-rated recovery of funds - or in perpetuity). The state can then improve its own public property, and we then can't be trespassed for carrying there. Otherwise, no.
     
  11. EJR914

    EJR914 Cheezburger Operator

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    Taxation is theft so...
     
  12. gunsmoker

    gunsmoker Lawyer and Gun Activist

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    Render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar's.

    (Jesus paid taxes and told others to. Was he telling people to sin? Stealing is sin.)
     
  13. AtlPhilip

    AtlPhilip Proud GCO member.

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    I would suggest rethinking the meaning of that phrase. Both of them....
     
  14. EJR914

    EJR914 Cheezburger Operator

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    That shows a clear misunderstanding of what Jesus said, the context, and the entire New Testament in general.

    Jesus couldn't lie, he knew the Pharisees were trying to catch him in something they could have Him killed or jailed for, Jesus knew they were trying to catch Him in a Catch 22, it was not God's perfect time yet, so Jesus gave them a riddle that he knew they would not understand because they did not know his teachings or truths from the Bible or old testament, as they were wrapped up only in following the laws, not living in the spirit.

    Taxation is theft.
     
  15. EJR914

    EJR914 Cheezburger Operator

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    Are you a Christian or a well Bible read atheist?
     
  16. Phil1979

    Phil1979 Member Georgia Carry

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    If God has established human government (see Romans 13) as a necessary limiter of evil in society, and He did, then He expects us to live under its reasonable laws. Paying taxes to the government to support its necessary functions is reasonable.

    I suspect God would frown on tax cheating.

    Render under Caesar certainly includes paying your taxes. Gunsmoker's interpretation is spot on.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  17. Mrs_Esterhouse

    Mrs_Esterhouse Swollen Member

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    Always consider your audience....
     
  18. psrumors

    psrumors Well-Known Member

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    So you are both saying being a victim of theft is sin?

    Zaccheus comes into play here as well.
     
  19. EJR914

    EJR914 Cheezburger Operator

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    For one that goes against teachings in the Old Testament where God warned His people about creating the Governmemt that they wanted, because it would oppress them. They didn't listen and of course God was right, they were oppressed.

    I have found in the Bible God punishes people with allowing them to institute governments .

    My guess is 99 percent of Christians are told this in church and other places, believe it at its face and never look into it any further or think about it anymore. Not to mention there are Denominations right here in the south that are very Socialist. Just like they are against gun carrying. Even though the Bible is clear. Also, they have become a political tool today, some churches.

    Answer me this.

    Does everything on this earth belong to God and everything beyond it?

    If the answer is yes, then does Caesar's Denali also not belong to God?

    God created the Heavens and the Earth.

    Do you believe that you own your own money, or do you believe that your money is God's and not yours? God created everything in this world.

    Do you believe your money is yours to do with whatever you wish, spend all of it, as you make it, or does the Bible tell people to do something different with your money?

    What is money? Is it not a tool? Does the Bible tell you what to do with this tool?

    I can go on if need be.

    There are also many preachers teaching false doctrine so reading your Bible is the best way to avoid their lies. Also, many preachers and denominations using their preaching for political purposes.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2016
  20. EJR914

    EJR914 Cheezburger Operator

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    Notice "to catch Him in his words."

    http://www.simpleliberty.org/giaa/render_unto_caesar.htm