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High court declines case concerning building preservation

By JESSICA GRESKO, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rejecting arguments from the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, three conservative Supreme Court justices it amounts to discrimination if synagogues, temples, churches and mosques are barred from taking part in programs that award money for preservation work.

The statement from Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, came as the court declined on Monday to take up a New Jersey case that raised questions about preservation grants for religious buildings.

Kavanaugh wrote that he agreed with the court’s decision not to hear the New Jersey case, but he said that at some point the justices “will need to decide whether governments that distribute historic preservation funds may deny funds to religious organizations simply because the organizations are religious.”

“Barring religious organizations because they are religious from a general historic preservation grants program is pure discrimination against religion,” he wrote.

Kavanaugh wrote that there were two main reasons to wait on taking up the dispute. He said factual details related to the New Jersey grant program in question “are not entirely clear.” And he said the justices should wait until more courts have had a chance to apply a 2017 Supreme Court decision involving the exclusion of a church from a state program. That decision said a Missouri church had the same right as other charitable groups to seek state money for a new playground surface and couldn’t be denied money solely because it is a religious institution.

The case the justices had been asked to hear comes from New Jersey’s Morris County. In 2002, county voters authorized the establishment of a historic-preservation program funded by a county property tax. Religious institutions were among those eligible for the grants.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation sued, and New Jersey’s highest court ruled that the grant program violated the state’s constitution. New Jersey’s constitution says that no person should have to pay taxes “for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, or for the maintenance of any minister or ministry.”

The Supreme Court’s decision not to take up the case leaves that ruling in place.

13 comments

  1. “When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, ’tis a Sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”
    – Benjamin Franklin

  2. Don Cornelius sr.

    To the Godless liberalism and big government is their religion can I opt out of my tax money support?

  3. I am “godless” and your claims are wrong, possibly based on your own biases and prejudices. I also can’t think of any atheists who I know that hold any beliefs like you claim. This is probably a case of something called a *Straw Man Fallacy* where a person makes up a false caricature of an opponent, and then attacks those false claims and not their opponent’s real views or position.

    Given that government is not a religion, I’d guess no. But I’d love to hear what happens if you try to argue such a claim with The IRS (^_^)

  4. Don Cornelius sr.

    Taxpayer funded welfare payments for able bodied parasites to opt out of participating in the economy is not a strawman argument. Taxpayer funding for planned parenthood to murder the unborn is not a strawman argument. As for your claim that I have biases and prejudice your are correct. I am bias toward common sense moral truth.

  5. Telling atheists that they believe something that they don’t IS a Straw Man Fallacy. Don’t try to Red Herring your way out of the lies and falsehoods in your first comment.

    “I am bias toward common sense moral truth.”

    You’re not showing it in these comments.

  6. Don Cornelius sr.

    I stand by my first comment liberalism and atheism for that matter are the religion of choice for some. If you are not in favor of tax payer funded abortions or subsidized generations of permanent underclass I commend you. You obviously are also well versed commie speak throwing classic canards as red herring and strawman into the mix.

  7. A religion involves afterlife and/or supernatural claims and in most cases a belief structure. Atheism is not a religion and being liberal is a political position. Claiming that fanatically following a sport team is a religion would have more validity. …and this new assertion doesn’t match your original comment.

    If you’re referencing Planned Parenthood regarding taxpayer funded abortions, you’d be wrong. That organization intentionally uses tax dollars exclusively for other health and information services.

    Also, you are obviously ill-informed if you think logical fallacies are somehow associated with communism.

  8. Don Cornelius sr.

    By your own definition of religion atheism qualifies in that in addresses the afterlife question with its core belief that there is no creator or afterlife. Fanatic loyalty to a sports team would suggest void of intelligence or curiosity for wisdom beyond trivial pursuit.

  9. But then you’re applying your assumptions regarding the definition of atheism. The broad, generic definition of atheism is “lacking belief in a god or gods” which, if you’ll note, does not make an assertion regarding the afterlife or supernatural. What you’re thinking of is a position generally called *strong atheism* which is an assertion that there is no god. Do you understand the difference? I’ve run across many people who fail to comprehend this, so I’m inclined to verify that you’re still with me.

  10. Don Cornelius sr.

    Pardon my ignorance regarding the variable levels of atheism, I assumed the religion or belief if you prefer was a confession to the position I stated. I admit that am no student of atheistic doctrine. I have listened to the likes of Hitchens and have a dear friend who claims to be an atheist. My friend is a retired machinist very intelligent as you clearly are as well. When we ponder life’s questions over a few beers I cannot fathom the amount of faith I requires to believe that random chance and not a creator keeps everything in order. The rotation of the earth and its fragile relationship with the heavens, the gravitational forces that control the seas, the predictable change of the seasons and on and on. I sincerely pray that you remain open to consider the savior. And I pray for forgiveness if i have caused any deterrence to that end.

  11. Don Cornelius sr.

    Pardon my ignorance regarding the variable levels of atheism, I assumed the religion or belief if you prefer was a confession to the position I stated. I admit that am no student of atheistic doctrine. I have listened to the likes of Hitchens and have a dear friend who claims to be an atheist. My friend is a retired machinist very intelligent as you clearly are as well. When we ponder life’s questions over a few beers I cannot fathom the amount of faith I requires to believe that random chance and not a creator keeps everything in order. The rotation of the earth and its fragile relationship with the heavens, the gravitational forces that control the seas, the predictable change of the seasons and on and on. I sincerely pray that you remain open to consider the savior. And I pray for forgiveness if i have caused any deterrence to that end.

  12. No worries. I’ve read a lot about the logic and positions of atheists so my definition is specific, but it’s also based on my discussions with many atheist friends and acquaintances who express similar or matching positions. Basically I’m not making a belief assertion, and I’m not claiming knowledge regarding a deity not existing. I am saying that I have evidence of a universe and many conflicting claims regarding deities. Given the conflicting claims I don’t think it’s unreasonable to operate as if there is no deity until further evidence is provided. I disagree with your description of “random chance” when we’ve been able to find a large amount of evidence regarding the structure and function of a good portion of the universe from our limited position.

    I don’t know your friend, but I have run across atheists who haven’t considered the nuances of their assertion of atheism. It’s possible that he’s unknowingly making belief or knowledge claims that might give you a false impression of all atheists. Not knowing his mind, I don’t want to speak for him. Just be aware that some atheists think asserting that no god exists and lacking a belief in a god are the same claim, when they aren’t. Maybe this is worth discussing with him over a few beers some time 😉

    Cheers

  13. Don Cornelius sr.

    Fair enough, as for my simple mind I see all the evidence I ever need in nature and creation, not to mention the hindsight of looking back on a long largely misspent life and being able to see where his hand has led me and sustained me. As for the few days man has been appointed to walk the earth i cocour with Solomon; “Meaningless, meaningless a chasing after the wind. Cheers

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