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Today at the Supreme Court: Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer and Missouri DNR

Question: Can states exclude churches from receiving aid for secular stuff like playgrounds, or does that violate the Free Exercise and Equal Protection Clauses?

Answer: Oh, shit. The Religious Right is about to start using tax money to teach kids about Jesus riding a dinosaur.

Facts of the Case

Missouri’s Scrap Tire Grant Program recycles tires and subsidizes non-profits to upgrade their playgrounds with recycled rubber surfacing. Under the previous Democratic governor, religious institutions were barred from the program. This meant that Trinity Lutheran Church’s preschool could not receive a grant, but a Montessori school would be eligible.

Are you starting to feel like they’re baiting us liberals? You guys like recycling, you snowflakes want a nanny state where kids fall off the swings onto soft rubber instead of concrete to toughen ’em… That’s no accident.

Arguments

Trinity Lutheran argues that jungle gyms aren’t religious, and that excluding parochial schools from public funding illegally penalizes them for their religion. Their Christian kids are just as entitled to protection from skinned knees as your heathen brats, right?

Opponents argue that States have always had the right to exclude religious institutions from public funding, and 39 states expressly outlaw it in their Constitutions. For instance, Missouri’s Constitution says:

Neither the general assembly, nor any county, city, town, township, school district or other municipal corporation, shall ever make an appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any religious creed, church or sectarian purpose, or to help to support or sustain any private or public school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever; (Art. IX, § 8)

Which seems pretty unambiguous, right?

There is also a PLOT TWIST. The former Democratic governor of Missouri Jay Nixon was replaced by Republican Eric Greitens, who is happy to disburse state funds to religious institutions like it says in the Bible. Under normal circumstances, that would mean that the case was moot — Trinity would get its rubber playground, and the case would disappear. But the Republican Attorney General has hired outside counsel to defend the old law, on the theory that maybe one day a future Democratic governor could reenact it. And if you think this reeks to high heaven, YOU ARE RIGHT. Missouri has propped up a fake opponent so that Trinity Lutheran and its adorable, skinned-knee toddlers can give us the magical gift of public funding for religious schools forever. Hosanna!

The Justices

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Notorious RBG was not having it.

I guess rather long ago now in the Everson case back in 1947, this Court said in no uncertain terms what the Framers didn’t want was tax money imposed to pay for building or maintaining churches or church property.

JUSTICE KAGAN seemed inclined to favor the church’s position. Not cool, Elena!

…[E]ssentially this is a program open to everyone. Happens to be a competitive program, but everyone is open to compete on various neutral terms, and you’re depriving one set of actors from being able to compete in the same way everybody else can compete because of their religious identification.

JUSTICE SOTOMAYOR didn’t buy the stich-up by Greitens and the Missouri attorney general at all: “If we have no adversity, hasn’t this case become mooted?” Nor did she accept that the playground’s purpose was entirely secular.

So how is the building separate from the religious exercise therein? I believe that this playground is part of the ministry of this church. And, in fact, I look at its bylaws, I look at its advertisements, and it includes play and conducted in a religiously valuable way. […] How do you separate out its secular function from its religious function?

JUSTICE ALITO wondered if the Constitutional separation of church and state was really an “admirable tradition.” This guy…!

JUSTICE BREYER seemed to be on the fence. He asked why the case wasn’t moot, but also suggested that funding a playground was similar to secular government services like police and fire, which no one would ever withhold from a religious school.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS opined that parochial schools should be able to use their publicly funded playgrounds to pray, because public schools sometimes host non-educational events on campus. Which makes no sense at all, but…

Let’s suppose that the public school sometimes uses its playground for things other than children playing, whatever they’re going to have, a — you know, an auction or anything else. Isn’t it the consequence of your argument that the church can use the playground for more religious activities if the public school can use the playground for other non-playground activities?

LOLWHUT??

JUSTICE GORSUCH sees no reason to withhold money from any religious organization ever. Which is why Republicans were rushing to get him on the bench in time to hear this very case.

How is it that discrimination on the basis of religious exercise is better in selective government programs than general programs, first?

JUSTICE KENNEDY, a Californian, is very concerned that churches have access to public funding to make them earthquake-proof. Justice Kennedy is A OLD.

JUSTICE THOMAS: Last February, Justice Thomas asked his one and only question ever from the bench. But he’s almost as nutty as Alito about getting the government back in the God business.

So, What Happens Now?

Dollars to doughnuts, the Court holds that states can no longer “discriminate” against religious organizations when distributing funds for “secular” purposes. Get psyched to fund cool stuff like:

  • textbooks for parochial schools;
  • new flooring for the chapel;
  • private school uniforms;
  • utility rate remission for churches;
  • synagogue youth group field trips;
  • abstinence-only education, the even crazier version;
  • Betsy DeVos’s grizzly-bear prevention program;
  • oh, and PRIVATE SCHOOL TUITION!

All for organizations which are already tax exempt. Praise the lord!

[Transcript of Oral Arguments Trinity v. Comer / Amicus Brief, Americans United for Separation of Church and State / WaPo]

Please give us moneez so we can buy a gun for to fight off the bears!

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  • Jeffocaster in the desert

    FUCK THE CONSTITUTION!!!!!! ROCK ON RWNJs!!!!!!!

  • dslindc

    I certainly hope they offer equal funding to all the Church of Satan’s secular activities, also too.

    • Anna Elizabeth

      This is the tactic to take. We should find out how to help the Satanist’s open and fund schools, etc.

      Make Rome howl!

    • House0fTheBlueLights

      Every mosque in America needs to apply for public funding, stat.

      • SnarkON

        This. And every black person in America should exercise their right to own guns. As soon as these things happen, the RWNJs will flip the fuck out.

  • arglebargle

    The road to hell is paved with granular rubber playground surfacing.

  • Bill D. Burger
  • SnarkON

    Damn, trying to make sense of this made my head hurt.

  • Han Shot First

    Where I live in Cincinnati, my taxes pay for transportation to private schools (parochial & charter), along with many other expenses. Then taxpayers b$tch when public schools have to pass levies to pay for their own operations, when in reality we’re subsidizing all the private schools.

    • Opalescent Riddles

      It’s the same in a lot of districts, so I understand. I’m not sure why those who are paying tuition to private school can’t solve their own transportation problems, but for some reason laws have been passed that guarantee busing for all students based on distance from target school.

      You could look at it as the public funding a program to limit class size in the public schools by making alternatives more attractive. But saying that edges me closer to the voucher advocates, which I am not.

      • Han Shot First

        I’m OK with supporting all our schools as long as the public schools are properly funded. If transportation is supposed to be for the entire district, including private, then fund as such. But state lawmakers only fund for the public students. Ohio also illegally underfunds its schools, going against the state constitution, and forces local municipalities to pick up the slack.

        It’s a wicked game meant to undermine the public system and erode it. Kasich is a master at this.

        • Lascauxcaveman

          State o’ Warshington has been going through the illegally-underfunding-schools thing for years now.
          http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/how-we-got-here-key-events-of-mccleary-school-funding-decision/

          The Catholic School I attended in my youth, where my wife is now a teacher) scrapes by at starvation level with $0 from the state – as it should be, since the state is doing a criminally poor job of of even funding basic programs for its own schools. It’s still the best grade school in town (by far) but it’s basically a charity funded by donors and, to a lesser degree, the Archdiocese. As it should be.

  • memzilla Ω

    The ultimate goal of this little time bomb is to have Betsy DeVos shovel as many public tax dollars into the pockets of Corporate America as fast as she can. The fact that the American public education system will erode further, and children will grow up with an especially anti-scientific base of knowledge, means nothing to these RWNJs. It’s the perfect recipe to cripple the competitiveness of this country from within, so much so you’d think it came straight out of a goddamn Russian think tank.

    • SnarkON

      On the bright side, there will be less competition for STEM kids applying to college.

      • Claire

        And even less when people interested in STEM start going outside the country so they can science without having to hear all about how Jesus split the first atom.

        • alwayspunkindrublic

          Wait…you’re telling me it was Ernest Rutherford, not Jesus? Well, I’ll be…

          • Claire

            Jesus was hanging over his shoulder bugging him at work like an asshole, the way he does in all those weird illustrations.

          • LesBontemps

            I hate it when he does that to me; it’s just creepy.

          • Claire

            He stopped doing it to me when I rolled my desk chair over his sandal one time.

          • Good_Gawd_Yall

            Thank you for the only laugh this whole nightmare has given me!

  • They do realize that if public tax dollars go to fund religious schools that madrases will want to get in on that action too, right?

    • onedollarjuana

      I’m guessing that if it had been a Muslim school the case wouldn’t have gotten this far. Or even into court.

      Or maybe they would have suggested that govt. funds would be available to rip the asphalt out of the playground to be replaced with broken glass and rusty nails.

    • Celtic_Gnome

      So, if the taxpayers are funding these private religious schools, doesn’t that make them public schools (since they’re publicly funded)? That means that we, the taxpayers, through our County Boards of Education, have the right to dictate educational content in their curriculla, since it is being done on our dime.

      It’s time for liberals to start running for the local boards and take them away from the RWNJ’s.

  • canes_pugnaces

    I can’t wait for the locale madras to apply for playground funding, be denied and go before an appellate judge to apply equal protection arguments. And win.

  • Bill D. Burger

    Boy…this ol’ fucking lib would be told he was going to hell by today’s godly Cons and Fundie GOP Bagger trash, huh?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/11dfd44b735312a87fb39c253a6b657dd33b86eb423ab61048ef911b2032bfd2.jpg

  • Nounverb911

    Why couldn’t the school just grind up their own used tires and be done with it?

    • Bebecca

      that could be a job for the scholarship kids, help with their tuition.

    • therblig

      i think that’s forbidden by the Gadsden flag

  • Blender_415

    The Satanists should jump on this pronto; they’d have the best playgrounds EVER.

    • h4rr4r

      With merry go rounds!

      People keep taking them down, for some safety BS.

  • chortlingdingo

    Sometimes I feel like religion is a plague upon the earth.

    • wide_stance_hubby

      If Prostitution = world’s oldest profession, then Religion = world’s oldest crime.

      • chortlingdingo

        Oh that’s good. Very nicely put.

      • therblig

        jesus paid for our sins…let’s make sure he got his money’w worth.

      • Msgr_MΩment

        I wish I knew how to get those Mormon proselytutes to stop bothering me.

    • azeyote

      as far as the big three goes – Abraham was not a great role model –

    • UncleTravelingMatt

      Let my people grift.

  • William
  • Bill D. Burger

    Thank goodness that there was someone out there who better understood the need for Big Gummit and The Church to work closely together.

    President Jefferson just didn’t understand true, patriotic, godly GOP and Fundie MurriKKKan values.

    http://www.quotemaster.org/images/9d/9d9c8ce98d90c6222381003b5db125c2.jpg

  • h4rr4r

    Why is tax money going to any private schools?

    Private schools including church run private schools should all be paying for their own playgrounds.

    • Proud Liberal

      We have a winner!

    • therblig

      except for madrassas, right? my understanding is that we liberals are supposed to love them.

      • h4rr4r

        I thought we wanted to turn public schools into madrassas.

        We are going to just have to wait for a troll to come by and tell us.

  • Proud Liberal

    Freedom from Religion! God damn it.

  • William
    • snigsy

      Fucking hell.

    • Bill D. Burger

      Theoretical Physics and Quantum Mechanics 101 in “Jesus Science School”:
      If Eve doomed the entire human race for 1 apple, what would she do for a Klondike Bar?

    • Antonin Dvorak

      Data? What fucking data could you possibly have, kid?

      • Doug Langley

        Silly. Didn’t you see the Ouija board?

    • The Wanderer

      I’d flunk him on general principles. He starts with his conclusion and doesn’t change it despite evidence to the contrary.

    • Anna Elizabeth

      I see here we have yet another Glorious Exemplar of the Master Race.

      Shit, I don’t even eat Bread that is this white.

    • Shibusa
    • TakingAmes

      I’m sorry. Data?!? What the hell variables could there be? And RESULTS? I find this offensive due to the fact that this kid has not died and then been resurrected so there’s no way to prove whatever his “hypothesis” was.

  • Msgr_MΩment

    Two moar poster ideas for Saturday’s march. Will be flying from Ottawa, so the Msgra. wants me to travel stealth with the posters. No rolled up corrugated poster boards.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cb9fd434911a3b510e03bae2be5c0286ad5b5c9899201ce4135876871e57016a.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c37e9de69ec297e3f2ec73c0e653a638be89019ca229a21c8712a79e16c482b9.jpg

  • Crystalclear12

    OK, once again I would like to apologize for Missouri.

    There did my duty

    • Proud Liberal

      Yeah, but what are we supposed to do about the Supreme Court?

      • Crystalclear12

        Encourage Gorsuch to eat at chick fil a and RBG to eat kale?

        • therblig

          get ourselves tested to see if we can donate organs if RBG needs them. one of my kidneys would look fabulous in that lace collar.

          • Crystalclear12

            She can have my heart. I’m an auditor so it’s not like I’m using it.

          • Proud Liberal

            LOL!

    • Msgr_MΩment

      Okay. Now, please stop SHOWing us.

  • Bongstar420
    • arglebargle

      pirated stolen

  • Chadwells

    Using a fairytale to grift public money. Or using same fairytale rationalize their bullshit “ideals”…or anything else they do in the name of fairytale.

    Giant Meteor 2016…amirite.

  • Vincent Ricola

    I’m going to start a religious private school in my living room and make taxpayers fund the biggest, most awesome amusement park in my backyard. And I can finally afford that garden window for my kitchen I’ve been eyeing. And new floors. And maybe a nice Jesus head-shaped hot tub for my future deck. It’s on.

    • Proud Liberal

      Hell yeah!

  • Proud Liberal

    “Many view separation of church and state as required by the First Amendment. The First Amendment not only allows citizens the freedom to practice any religion of their choice, but also prevents the government from officially recognizing or favoring any religion.”

    • The Wanderer

      Precisely. Otherwise we become Iran.

      • onedollarjuana

        Otherwise we become continue on our unholy road to becoming Iran.

        fify

      • Longstreet63

        More likely, we become one of those nations who have and ignore religious separation laws. They apply them only to the minority religions and not to, say, the Orthodox church.

      • OrG

        The problem is that they would love USAmerica to be a christian Iran.

  • OrG

    Does anyone else think gorsuck is gonna be just as bad as dead scalia, except with added religious creepiness?

    • Proud Liberal

      Hand raised!

    • William
      • Anna Elizabeth

        Fuckin’ A-men, my brother.

      • LesBontemps

        I thought the only way to be sure was to nuke it from space?

    • TJ Barke

      Apparently all the other justices already hate him.

      • LesBontemps

        Did they put a tack on his chair before oral argument?

      • Msgr_MΩment

        Saves time.

    • Vincent Ricola

      And better health. :(

    • alwayspunkindrublic

      Too bad Hillary would’ve been just as bad or worse than Trump, right?

      • House0fTheBlueLights

        I’m starting to think that Hillary was toast from the outset. They were never going to let that happen. (Or any Dem, frankly)

        • alwayspunkindrublic

          Putin or the right wing militias?

        • Lance Thrustwell

          ‘They’, eh? I hate Them.

      • Doug Langley

        Yeah, she’d make terrible appointments. Why, just look at her VEEP – a capable, experienced guy who was admired by Republicans and Dems alike, and – wait.

    • House0fTheBlueLights

      Much much worse. He doesn’t have Scalia’s intellectual prowess.

    • aureolaborealis

      I hear it this way: Every bit as right-wing crazy as Scalia, with none of the redeeming qualities, like humor and intelligence.

  • Longstreet63

    If only our founders had included some kind of clause forbidding religious establishment…

    • aureolaborealis

      They could have even called it the Establishment Clause!

  • alwayspunkindrublic

    If Gorsuch can get Satan to stop making my guitar picks mysteriously vanish into thin air, I’m all for ‘im.

    • OrG

      It’s not satan, it’s the guitar pick fairy, unsurprisingly subsidized by the guitar pick manufacturers association.

      • alwayspunkindrublic

        Something happens when I drop a pick playing a gig…it causes an anomaly in the space/time continuum or some shit. They’re just gone. I don’t even bother looking for them anymore.

        • Anna Elizabeth

          Scale modelers know this Phenomena well.

      • House0fTheBlueLights
    • msanthropesmr

      I have this problem. I buy green Dunlop tortex picks. I have purchased thousands of them. I have about 2 in my possession. However, the nasty ones that I have gotten for free, I can always find.

      • alwayspunkindrublic

        I used to use the Dunlop purple tortex ones…partly for thickness, partly because I thought the color would help me find them. Now I use Clayton 1.25mm stringbusters for flat picking…I buy them by the hundred.

      • aureolaborealis

        I use these, too. My kids steal them.

    • Mr. Blobfish

      One Wierd Trick. Get a hole punch and punch a hole in the middle of your pick. You get a better grip. You’ll never drop one again.

    • Lance Thrustwell

      I got my singer/guitarist one of these once. Worked like a charm ’til he lost that too.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a19800347e324b446b2a6a91f4f3383b21b132663e612482c9c55c980e0d93f4.jpg

      • alwayspunkindrublic

        They’re beyond help, most of ’em.

    • pstockholm

      Have you looked in the same place where the socks appear after being AWOL for a few months. Check that place, your picks will be there.

      • alwayspunkindrublic

        I was taught that missing socks went to live with Jesus….so no.

    • mailman27

      There’s usually a couple in the washing machine.

    • aureolaborealis

      If you played bass (with your goddamn fingers, the way Jesus intended), you wouldn’t have this problem. It would also free up your social calendar for gaming and masturbation.

      • alwayspunkindrublic

        Drublic Jr. is a bass player…with fingers. He doesn’t have much time for gaming. As to the other….I don’t ask.

  • Proud Liberal

    I’m beginning to think people get into religion just to get gobmint money.

  • Msgr_MΩment
  • Longstreet63

    It’s too bad nobody thought to suggest that this could mean madrassas get tax money for nonreligious activities. Not to mention the satanic temple.

    • Anna Elizabeth

      We shall have to demonstrate what happens when the Stupid forget to have Attention to Detail.

    • Proud Liberal

      I’m sure the other churches would be just fine with that….yeah, right.

    • Vincent Ricola

      Phase 2 is making sure that only “legitimate” state-defined religions can receive funds. Something something white christian nation something something.

    • nightmoth

      I’ve been threatening to found my own church for a while. Looks like there will never be a better time than now to get some sweet godly monies.

  • Spotts1701, Resistance Pilot

    Dollars to doughnuts, the Court holds that states can no longer “discriminate” against religious organizations when distributing funds for “secular” purposes.

    They’ll probably come up with some ridiculous logic like the Nevada Supreme Court did in finding Education Savings Accounts to pass constitutional muster – since the money is being placed in a separate account, it is no longer “public funds” but rather at the control of the holder of the account.

  • Mr. Blobfish

    Please tell me that Jesus riding a tyranasaurus Rex is not to scale.

    • VirginiaLady

      Nano tyranus?

      • Msgr_MΩment

        They’re cute at that age.

        • VirginiaLady

          Did they finally disprove the seperate species? Is jus a lil baby lower case t rex?

    • alwayspunkindrublic

      Jesus is a little taller than you thought, eh?

    • House0fTheBlueLights

      It’s a velociraptor.

    • Msgr_MΩment

      T-Rex’s hands really are that big. Period!

  • Lefty Frizzell

    Fund your own fucking theocracy!

    For fuck’s sake it’s not even bootstrapping if god will provide, you grasping, hypocritcal, faithless fucks.

  • VirginiaLady

    This opens the door for taxes on churches. Gotta be fair so pay dem taxes.

    • Proud Liberal

      Tax the shit out of them. They are nothing but another arm of the Republican party anyway.

      • nightmoth

        Yup. Yesterday a friend told me that when she asked her brother and sister-in-law why they voted for Trump they responded that their preacher told them to, because Trump is against abortion. Stupid on every level–including believing that Trump gives a rip about abortion! Also ironic because Protestants were always the ones who claimed to be better than Catholics because they didn’t “take their orders from Rome.” So, taking your orders from some rube in a robe who says he’s been “called to preach” is better? Tax all churches on all their property!

  • disqus_lWwzrwNaw6

    The dark money Republicans have been getting their ducks in a row (and nasty little Teutonic ducks they are at that) for a good many decades, gearing up in earnest during the ghastly Reagan decade of the 1980s. Progressives are dangerously late to the game.

    The Supreme Court, that once-grand institution, has become a corrupt, Republican front operation. It was for this that the Republicans stole the presidency in 2000 and packed the Court with men like John Roberts and the utterly shameless Samuel Alito and, now, in the Stolen Seat, the odious Neil Gorsuch.

    (That doesn’t even begin to get into what they’ve been doing to the federal appellate bench, which the right has systematically packed with dark money ideologues and Federalist Society nut-cases. While he was stealing that Court seat from Merrick Garland, Mitch McConnell was also holding up dozens of Obama appointees to the federal bench: that particular floodgate is about to burst wide open. and those vacancies will be filled with judges every bit as horrid as Neil Gorsuch.)

    The theocratic stuff is really largely just a front. The oligarchs who own the GOP do not, on the whole, care much about Christianity, although they do believe theocracy is a useful means of controlling the lower orders.

    Although there are, to be sure, fanatics like Mercer and the DeVos gang who believe themselves to be direct agents of the Lord, most of the oligarchs consider themselves superior beings by virtue of their own wealth and power rather than God’s, a veritable Master Race–they are all John Galt when they look into their shaving mirrors every morning.

    Anyhow, what this Court has really been up to, though, pretty steadily, ever since Roberts shoved through Hobby Lobby, is using religion as a political weapon.

    Every anti-separation decision does, yes, guarantee the continued fanatical allegiance of the Christianists.

    But more practically, and longer-term, these theocratic decisions by deliberate design also make it harder to enforce fundamental rights: the rights of workers in the workplace, the rights of students (and of teachers and other employees) in the public education system, the rights of citizens in the public arena. They erode secularism, and secular society is, of course, where the greatest gains have occurred in workers’ rights, human rights, environmental regulation, and other progressive breakthroughs.

    These decisions also have tremendous financial implications. They allow funds to be drained away from secular enterprises into private pockets (like “privatization,” the goal is to defund our great public bureaucracies and use those stolen billions of taxpayers’ dollars to enrich and empower the already rich and powerful, while insulating them from taxation, regulation, and federal oversight).

    Progressives will need to step up their game, or they will be swamped. This is going to be a hideously ugly, wasteful, long-lasting battle, and at this point the other side has most of the structural advantage and almost all of the hard cash.

    PS: Watch for any voting rights decisions that may come up in this session. Republicans are in a sweat about those 2018 mid-terms, and you can be sure John Roberts—who has already done his best to neutralize the Voting Rights Act to advantage dark money Republicans–will move swiftly to disenfranchise as many Democratic-leaning voters as possible before November 2018. This is an activity in which Neil Gorsuch will join with great glee.

    • Proud Liberal

      The billionaires have won and we will pay dearly for our loss.

  • Chadwells

    I have no problem with religion. I enjoy learning about them. I just hate how these feeble minded fuckwits take the shit literally. Pretty much the antithesis of what they teach far as I can tell.

  • Sedagive ’em Hell

    The Satanic Temple is free to open a school adhering to the tenants of benevolence and empathy among all people, adherence to common sense and justice, rejection of tyrannical authority, and the undertaking of noble pursuits guided by individual will, and they will now qualify for taxpayer subsidies.

    Let humanism flourish!

    • Anyone wanna bet on when this happens?

    • Msgr_MΩment

      Satan sheets! No muslins!

    • TJ Barke

      Sorry, the new religious police will murder them all…

  • Suttree

    Really guys, take your fucking Jesus and shove him up your ass or pay taxes like everyone else.

  • William
  • cheetojeebus

    The dudes down at the glass recycling plant are so pissed no one is taking them up on their new playground agility enhancing play surface. “Kids today are all pussies, toughen em up gow dang it.”

  • Hairstrike Alpha

    Brilliant! This will be a great time to get my history books featuring stories like tank commander Jesus teaming up with wild ace pilot Adolf Hitler to help general Reagan defeat the Soviet Union. Or my chapter on Donald Trumps heroic ‘Nam mission to kill traitor colonel Kurtz for Jesus before Hollywood turned it into that bullshit movie because everyone wants to be Donnie T.

    • Msgr_MΩment

      Ah, Mr. Donnie T.
      I almost pity that fool.

  • Lance Thrustwell

    Money for a playground, eh? Well, they really know how to put the “fun” in “fungible.”

    • Shanzgood

      Coming from a construction background, I wonder whether the state will issue a tax exemption certificate for all the materials purchased. That would be kind of…interesting.

    • therblig

      or “fundie”

  • Wellstone En Resistencia, Coño
  • Hairstrike Alpha

    Can we get our history books arguing that slavery was God’s way of bringing ignorant Africans to Grace? Because I can totally see that being a wingnut Christian sidebar…

    • Ghenghis McCann

      It has to be in a wingnut tract somewhere. It just has to be.

      • TJ Barke

        Oh you butter believe it.

    • alwayspunkindrublic

      Too late.

    • nightmoth

      Haven’t seen it in a public school history book, but I’d bet $100 it’s already in the christianist home school books. The kids next door to me “learned in school” that Jesus let the Indians get genocided because He sent them missionaries and they didn’t believe the story.

      • Anna Elizabeth

        Dear Deacon Dad told me so.

  • Cranky Man

    Meanwhile, it’s impossible for PP to not use public money for abortions. Tell you what, when religious exemption from taxes ends we’ll talk about about some public funding. Although I’ll bet the christian Taliban will literally shit a brick ( because of opioid induced constipation) when a madras’s gets $$ to use recycled water for the lawn.

  • An Outhouse for the Resistance

    Its simple. The religious schools get the recycled steel belts from the tires, the publics get the rubber.

    • Ghenghis McCann

      From what I’ve read about the nuns in Catholic schools in Ireland, steel belts would have been welcomed as a tool to chastise the little sinners.

  • DrBigHead

    Perhaps someone suggested this already, but how about stripping them of their tax-free status? If they are going to receive public money, then they should carry some of the burden of supplying those funds.

    • Villago Delenda Est

      I’m fully in favor of this. If the church is legit, the parishioners will support it. If it’s a scam (as so many of them are) then they will go away. $cientology, we’re talking about you. Prosperty Gospel assholes, you too.

    • Bostonian in Brooklyn

      But then you should also strip it for a Montessori School or other secular non-profit.

      • DrBigHead

        If they receive public money, then I would have no problem with it.

      • ahughes798

        Why? They aren’t violating the Separation Clause.

    • jesterpunk

      War on Christianity or something. They want all the benefits of being tax free but also want all the benefits anyone else gets too with none of the downsides that go with being a business. If they dont get it all then they scream its part of the war on Christianity.

  • William

    Finally we can start using tax money for useful items for parochial schools. Halleluiah. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3935bbc4e970595f0a8f1db084d20427381a52f403e537d8cfa99aeed90df98f.jpg

    • MynameisBlarney
      • Anna Elizabeth

        Remember Gents, Masturbation is a Sin, but Cleanliness is Next to Godliness. Wash your Pricks rapidly and Often!

        • yyyaz

          “Honest, honey, I was just cleaning it when it went off in my hand.”

          • Anna Elizabeth

            XD

        • aureolaborealis

          “It’s mine, and I’ll wash it as much as I want to.”

          • Anna Elizabeth

            “and as rapidly, also too!”

      • chortlingdingo

        Is that a real thing? Seems pretty abusive to me.

        • MynameisBlarney

          No, but it fooled a LOT of people a couple of years ago.

    • theblackdog

      Dammit, I wish I had thought of this first, I could be rich!

  • Doug Langley

    Good grief. Gorsuch has never heard of separation of church and state? Seriously??

    • Antonin Dvorak

      He’s heard of it, he just isn’t a fan.

  • UncleTravelingMatt

    I guess States Rats aren’t all that important after all.

  • William
    • theblackdog

      “Because you’re a terrible girl who bleeds because of Eve’s sin”

  • Anna Rompage

    I’m not sure who is worse; Thomas that has an abysmal voting record but keeps his mouth shut, or Gorsuch, a guy with an equally abysmal voting record, and who asks some really fucking stupid questions, showing that he has the intellect of one of those dinosaurs jeebus used to ride…

  • Spurning Beer

    Okay, that does it. No more shilly-shallying. I’m starting me a church, goddamnit.

    • Anna Elizabeth

      I have a Cthulhu Mythos roleplaying adventure where a seemingly Evangelical Church is actually a Cult of Nyarlathhotep.

      Also too, I think I just maxed out on “Correctly Spelled Terms not recognized by Spellcheck”.

      • Ghenghis McCann

        Hang on while I check my prescription. I’m sure I saw Nyarlathhotep on it. Better check on possible side effects.

      • Contemplative Ron

        I thought RL evangelical churches already WERE cults of Nyarlathotep.

        • Anna Elizabeth

          See, Nyarlathotep *will* grant a boon, that’s the difference.

    • President in Exile Firefly

      All hail the Holy Beer Spurner! Your thirst has redeemed our sins.

  • Shibusa
    • Roadstergal

      Ooh, I like this one. *stealing*

  • Villago Delenda Est

    Time to get arenas with lions back into use.

    • Ghenghis McCann

      “The opening will be attended by Eric and Donald Jr, because of their well known interest in African wildlife. They will stand in the middle of the arena and press the button to let the lions loose.” Don’t see a problem there.

  • fawkedifiknow

    I wonder what their attitude would be if this case was about buying prayer rugs for a mosque.

    • Villago Delenda Est

      Islam is not a “real religion”. Case closed!

      • Roadstergal

        The Founding Fathers didn’t hold with no Moslems. Yeah, some of them talked about being welcoming of ‘Mohammadens,’ but that ain’t the same thing, Kid Rock told me so.

    • OrG

      I don’t.

    • Spurning Beer

      Maybe non-slip safety mats to go under the prayer rugs.

    • jesterpunk

      I would bet it would be similar to when Louisiana passed a law about funding private schools.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/13/louisiana_n_1593995.html

  • bupkus23

    What I don’t get is why the MO legislature – supposedly overwhelmingly GOP – was okay with imposing a $0.50 tax on every new tire sold in the state to add to their Solid Waste Fund ( creating a special “subaccount” just for this purpose ).

    Besides the fact that the GOP is against every tax evah!, and that a “Solid Waste Fund” sounds like one of those commie environmental things – shouldn’t the tax be on the used tires being scrapped?

    As it is, even ignoring the religion/state issue – this program sounds suspiciously like one of those “public-private partnerships”, where the “private” part makes off with the “public” monies, instead of having to make an “honest” profit off their services…

    • pstockholm

      I’m also very interested in how the “competitive” thing is supposed to work. Competition for access to a program based on tax benefits? Unless it’s a needs analysis (which is not “competition”), that just doesn’t sound right.
      I would also take a very close look at the contracting for the resurfacing, but I guess we’re safe there, Missouri Republicans would never stoop to handing out contracts to the few buddies who happen to have a monopoly on resurfacing business in the state.

      • lurch394

        Missouri is strange. I lived in an apartment in Kansas City. Once I received a tax declaration form in which I had to list how many barrow hogs, chickens, and geldings were kept on my property. Thankfully, I was not taxed for my cat.

  • FZsdaughter

    You’d better start hoping that meteor hits Earth after all. Watching the slow death of the U.S. is like watching a child die of cancer — end it quickly, Jeebus!

  • theblackdog

    $10 says the playground isn’t publicly accessible either.

    • ahughes798

      Isn’t it true that in NYC, (or is it state-wide?) adults w/o children are not allowed in playgrounds? Even though they’re helping to pay for them.

      • Jeffery Campbell

        No thinking adult without children would go to a NYC playground. It’s like going to a dog park sans dog.

        • ahughes798

          But what if you like to swing on swings? As an adult, I still enjoy that aspect of playgrounds. Not that I go to them, because if you’re an adult w/o a child at a playground, you’re automatically viewed, at best, as a creep.

          • Roadstergal

            Yeah, I had to regretfully give up swinging on swings after college. Being a drunk collegiate gives you half an excuse; being a 40-year-old yelling ‘whee’ at 10pm gets you a chat with the constables.

          • ahughes798

            I know that feeling..sometimes instead of practicing, my fellow band members and I would go to the park down the street and swing on the swings, or play “salt and pepper.” A cop would always stop by, usually the one we knew as “Robocop.”

  • Red Bird Ω

    You missed the best part about tax payers having to fund parochial/private schools. It’s that despite the fact that our money will be used to pay for them to exist, we will have no say in what they teach and who they choose to admit to their schools. So, to put a very fine point on it, black and brown people will get the privilege of paying for white people to send their children to the good schools while not being allowed to send their own children there. Welcome to the new segregation. I don’t think I’m exaggerating.

    • Zonath

      But then the blacks and browns will have the opportunity to start up their own schools, since that’s what the HBCUs did, which was really great for the blacks and browns, and much better than if there was integration, right?

      Fuck. I need to start drinking now to calm down the rage.

      • Red Bird Ω

        Taken to the logical conclusion.

    • ahughes798

      The assumption here is that religious schools that charge high tuition and can pick their students are delivering superior education. Personally, I doubt they are.The black and brown children will be spared from brain-washing on the public dime, which to me is a plus. Of course we need to make public education the better and more obvious choice, especially for black and brown parents and kids, and for poor white parents and kids, too. Take the money from the military budget…the part that goes to contractors.

      • Red Bird Ω

        I agree. We should be making public schools better.

  • President in Exile Firefly

    I can’t wait for the next Muslim Center to ask Missouri for playground money.

    • Ricky Gay

      Satan’s Kidz, also too

  • Damned precious snowflake babbys!

    OUR elementary school playground, complete with dizzily high metal slides, swings on metal chains, kid-launching creepy animals on springs, 20 ft long splintery see-saws, limb-twisting monkey bars, etc. was build over BLACK ASPHALT.

    Our crusty scab-covered knees and elbows were a BADGE OF HONOR.

    • theblackdog

      Now that I think about it, that was the grade 4-6 playground at my first elementary school. K-3 had a sandbox.

      Then we moved out to BFE AZ and it was wood chips.

      • lurch394

        I feel you, in a totally straight way. In California we had asphalt. In New Mexico we had hard, alkaline ground and goatheads.

    • yyyaz

      Mine had the extra special ice and cinders overlay in winter.

    • Fancy Meau-Faux

      I read an interesting study a while back and accident rates are actually less on blacktop or concrete playgrounds. The theory behind this is that kids/parents who have padded rubber play surfaces think that it’s dramatically safer when in reality it is only slightly safer. This results in riskier behaviours on padded surfaces and more broken bones. When you look at concrete or asphalt you know it’s going to fuck you up so you are more cautious.

      • Tell that one to poor Norbert Henderson, who in the third grade attempted to do a 360 on the swings. He almost made it, too, and got a broken arm when he smacked into the hardtop for his troubles.

      • SeeTrain65

        From what I’ve read, there is a similar study regarding football helmets. Before plastic helmets and face masks, the risk of damage to the head was important, players wanted to protect their heads, there was more of a respect for injuries and they were more cautious, but when helmets came in, tackling by leading with the head became more than more popular, and injuries began to mount.

        When I was writing sports, I experienced this second-hand, when a player on a team I covered quite often injured himself by leading with his head. He broke his neck and was placed in a coma, the doctors hoping it would help him recover, but after eight days, he passed at the age of 17.

  • Ricky Gay

    Thanks for the cameo in the story. Wink!

  • Contemplative Ron

    And with that, the State of Gilead was born.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      mission accomplished

    • AncienReggie

      Come for the rubber, stay for the balm.

  • Panika MCD

    if this violates the state’s own constitution, why is it before SCOTUS and not their Supreme Court of Show Me? it seems to me that would be the appropriate place for it given your argument. taking it to federal court doesn’t just make mofos in MO pay for jesus playgrounds, it makes all of us, Katie, pay for them.

  • capnkrunch

    The only Jesus I accept is Raptor Jesus. I’m all for state funding if it helps more kids accept His love.
    http://raptorjesuscamp.ytmnd.com/

    • Jeffery Campbell

      Well, THAT was awesome! Seizure inducing, sure, but AWESOME!

  • Angela Ruzzo

    I live in Missouri. This is all fine and dandy with the fundamentalists in Missouri until a Moslem school asks for a rubber playground or textbook funding, and then the shit will hit the fan. There is a Moslem school in my town, so it is only a matter of time.

    • Lefty Wright

      That is the only saving grace on the NC school voucher program. Several Muslim schools are taking the vouchers. One has over 70 students on vouchers. I’m sure the Republicans in the legislature hate it, but they could not figure a way around it.

      • Roadstergal

        We need every single secular school to sign up for the Church of Satan and get in on the grifting on equal footing.

  • yyyaz

    Looks like it is time for the Church of Satan™ to start opening schools.

  • Jim Johnson

    Well, I suppose this does beg the question of whether a public fire department, supported by our taxes, should be used to put out a fire at a church, synagogue, or mosque. My answer…
    let the hideous evil that is all of Abrahamism burn to the ground.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      that’s all well and good until the secular building next door catches fire

      • Jim Johnson

        Good point. We probably need some kind of “separation” between religious and secular fires.

        • cmd resistor

          Firewalls.

      • Querolous

        To call a church burning down an “act of god” would be supreme irony.

  • Lefty Wright

    The North Carolina Supreme Court did some amazing legal gymnastics to allow taxpayer funds to go for school vouchers. Often contradicting themselves in their decision. The state constitution says that tax funds have to be spent on public education. The court actually disagreed with that finding two different ways, that any education was a public benefit, therefore even non public schools were essentially a public service, and the constitutional requirements were just a suggestion, not a mandate.

    They also overruled the finding that the voucher program had essentially no performance requirements. While admitting that public schools had to show adequate performance, they reversed course and said these were not public schools, and therefore did not have to show achievement. If the legislature intended for them to show kids were actually learning, they would have put it in the law. And who are we to judge the legislature anyway? I mean, we are just the top state court, not God. This kind of overrules the whole basis the Court cited for the legislation, the legislature claimed vouchers were the answer to poor kids failing in public schools. Which to anyone except an astute Republican legal mind says the voucher schools need to be accountable for educational progress.

    On one other little gem concerning the ability for these schools, almost all church related, to allow discrimination due to religion, the Court had a little more trouble. So they just said the plaintiffs did not have standing to contest that part, so it was not an issue for the courts to decide.

    This is what we have to look forward to under Gorsuch rulings.

    • Zippy W Pinhead

      just happened in AZ, also too. You can already see the flood of money being syphoned away from public schools to land in the coffers of private religious schools and iffy charter schools

      • Lefty Wright

        Yeah, and in NC, the only real requirement is that the teacher had a high school diploma. A few of the larger schools must do standardized tests and report them, but most schools do not meet that limit. The others must give a standardized test of their choice (which could be valid or not) but do not need to release any information on the results. There are no curriculum requirements, no facilities requirements, no instructional hour requirements, no class size requirements, not even a criminal background check. And no financial reporting for all except the few larger ones.

        One of my biggest gripes is that this was claimed to be helping the low performing poor students. But there is no requirement that a parent show the public school is underperforming or their kid failing in the public school. And of course, no requirement they are achieving anything in the new school. You could pull your ninth grader out of the top school in the state where they were making good grades and put them in a school taught by a high school grad teaching 20 kids from 6 years old to 16 years old in a church basement for 4 hours a day and teaching from the Bible. And never know how they are doing until they “graduate”. I doubt that happens, but the law will not prevent it.

        • ahughes798

          I don’t doubt it at all.

      • Odd Jørgensen

        Opening up for more vouchers, because the public schools will get even less funding, and falling ever more behind. This has been their goal all along, defund public schools by funneling all the money to parochial ones.

    • davej1s

      Christ on a bicycle…those are some legal gymnastics you got there.

  • Relativicus

    This is all the fault of the Founders. If they had crafted a Constitution that contained anything more than the right to discriminate, the right to own an arsenal, and the right of states to tell the Feds to piss off, we wouldn’t be having these problems.

  • UnsaltedSinner

    Rubber-clad playgrounds for Christian children? Oh, ye of little faith!

  • chicken thief

    I can see it now: soon the state will start paying for Buff Nordic Jesus’s Planet Fitness membership…..

  • Bitter Scribe

    Planned Parenthood can’t receive a penny of taxpayers’ money because it performs abortions, even though none of the public funds pay for abortion, because money is fungible and the abortions taint everything else it does. But church schools can have taxpayer-funded playground enhancements because the playgrounds aren’t inside the church, or something. Got it.

  • PixieThis

    The Church of the Benevolent Pixie is now open. I want tax exemptions and more free stuff paid for with taxpayers money.

    Why, oh why are we so fucked up with religious nuttery in this country??? o:O

    • crazymonkeylady

      And I would like funding for my church ‘Bitch-Slap Ministries’ ™. “Sometimes the only way to save the soulless heathens is a good old fashioned Bitch Slap of Truth!”

  • Jonny On Maui

    Why oh why do we love our superstitions so?

  • David Chaillou

    The way it happens in France is religious schools get public funding if they allow the Education Nationale to define the curriculum and are open to children of all origins and creeds. If not, they do not get funding for anything.

  • davej1s

    Wait, doesn’t Jesus or the flying spaghetti monster or somebody have the job to keep the little xtians from falling off the playground equipment and bumping their heads on the hard, hard ground?

  • pgjack

    Do these Christian overlords intend that Satan worshipers also get federal funds? How about Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc.?

  • Noxious Resistance

    Well, at least the playgrounds at the mosques and Churches of Satan will be a little more safe.

    • Celtic_Gnome

      Trust me, they’ll find a way to exclude the dirty brown Muslins from the ruling.

      And the Satanic Temple isn’t a real religion, because real religions worship God.

  • Is our children learning (what “pediatric cancer” means)?

    Hazardous organic chemicals in rubber recycled tire playgrounds and pavers
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653512009848

  • AncienReggie

    Jesus Christ! Is there no end to this perfidy?

    • ZAmazingProfessionalCrastinatr

      The short answer: No. The long answer: Nope.

  • sgt. jmk of the résistance

    What about that eternal wingnut complaint (about Planned Parenthood) that “money is fungible”?

    Or is it that money given to religious folks isn’t the same as money given for slut pills and Abortionplexes?

    (Abortionplexi???)

  • Scooby

    Somebody better remind him that this will apply to Islamic schools too!

  • Jeff Mc Donald

    Schools supported by the Church of Satan will be the next to apply for funds. Conservative heads explode in 3…2…1…

  • Riley Whodat Venable

    I’m not worried. As soon as a Mosque school requests money for an Ishmael-go-round for their playground the case will be back in court.

  • crazymonkeylady

    When churches pay taxes, I’d be fine with it. My question is if the money builds a playground with tax dollars, and they put up a fence to keep pesky neighbors of a different religion out, How is this even good? This is nothing if not the American Taliban.

  • phoenix00

    So Gorsuch isn’t even pretending he cares about this “separation of church and state” thing now, is he?

  • duckshoe

    Weeel, no experienced appellate lawyer would predict the outcome of a case from the way oral argument goes, really. Unless you get laughed at. Or yelled at. Then, maybe.

  • Truly Madly Derply

    I live in Missouri (I appreciate your condolences, thanks) and if this passes I’m going to start a campaign urging all 8 of the Mosques near me to install playgrounds and apply for Missouri Scrap Tire grants.

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