Amid all the hoopla over a potential government shutdown in the U.S., a growing nuclear disaster in Japan, and a developing war in Libya, an important Supreme Court ruling on April 4 went almost completely unnoticed.
It’s important because the 5-4 decision is a major blow to the separation of church and state: in an Arizona case involving tax credits for scholarships to private schools (including religious ones), the court ruled that the plaintiffs who objected to the favorable tax credits had no standing to sue.
As David Stratton has pointed out in a blog that was also published by the Wilmington StarNews Online, the court did not even consider the merits of the case, apparently because the one-person majority did not believe taxpayers have the right to sue under the establishment clause, which the nation’s founders carefully designed to keep government fingers out of religious matters.
The ruling, as Justice Elena Kagan put it, offers a “one-step instruction to any government that wishes to insulate its financing of religious activity from legal challenge” (more on that here).
Stratton, long time pastor of Brunswick Islands Baptist Church who will soon become pastor of Woodhaven Baptist in Apex, knows whereof he speaks. He’ll graduate with a DMin degree from Campbell University Divinity School in May, and his impressive DMin project — which is PhD level work — deals with Baptist contributions to religious liberty in America. I hope you’ll take time to read Stratton’s blog, or the slightly abbreviated StarNews version (though it lacks helpful links from the original blog), and become more informed about this important issue.
And, if you really care about the separation of church and state, be afraid. Be very afraid.