The United States Supreme Court garnered many headlines Monday when it ruled that a Missouri church should not be barred from benefitting from a state-sponsored aid program solely because it's a church.
In a 7-2 decision released Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer that Trinity Lutheran Church's daycare center was eligible to receive funding from a secular program that repaired playgrounds.
Both sides of the debate over church and state separation and religious freedom weighed in on the result of the litigation. Here are five of the reactions.
The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Trinity Lutheran Church, celebrated the Supreme Court's ruling.
ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman, the attorney who argued the case before the high court back in April, said in a statement Monday that the decision "affirms the commonsense principle that government isn't being neutral when it treats religious organizations worse than everyone else."
"Equal treatment of a religious organization in a program that provides only secular benefits, like a partial reimbursement grant for playground surfacing, isn't a government endorsement of religion," stated Cortman.
"As the Supreme Court rightly found, unequal treatment that singles out a preschool for exclusion from such a program simply because a church runs the school is clearly unconstitutional."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which joined an amicus brief with other groups against Trinity Lutheran, were dismayed by the decision.
The Reverend Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said in a statement on Monday that the decision "threatens to open the door to more taxpayer support for religion, which is at odds with our history, traditions and common sense."
"This ruling undermines the bedrock principle that no American should be forced to support a religion against his or her will. The religious freedom protections enshrined in state constitutions are worth more than resurfacing a playground," stated Rev. Lynn.
"Taxpayer-funded religion is bad for churches, communities and citizens. Americans United will continue to fight to buttress the church-state wall because that's the only thing that can ensure true religious freedom for everyone."
The Family Research Council, which was part of an amicus brief filed in support of Trinity Lutheran, applauded the result of the case.
FRC Center for Religious Liberty Director Travis Weber, who attended the April oral arguments, said in a statement Monday that the decision was "a win for the freedoms that Americans have long exercised."
Weber put an especial emphasis on the newest justice, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who he saw as a positive force on the high court.
"With the recent addition of Justice Gorsuch, we are much more optimistic about the future of religious freedom in America," said Weber.
"Justice Gorsuch's presence will re-enforce a welcome originalist voice in not just the Trinity Lutheran case but also plenty of pivotal cases in the decades to come."
The Center for Inquiry, which joined an amicus brief against the church, denounced the decision, arguing that the ruling will lead to other secular government programs being compelled to fund church ministries.
In a statement released Monday, CFI Legal Director Nicholas Little said that the ruling "has detonated a massive breach in the wall of separation between church and state."
"In fact the justices have laid the groundwork for additional confusion and conflict, as they have they provided no real method for deciding whether future applications by churches for taxpayer subsidy will be acceptable or not," said Little.
"In paying for the renovation of its playground, the state of Missouri relieves Trinity Lutheran Church of a financial burden, which frees the church to use those funds for explicitly sectarian purposes. That is unacceptable."
The Catholic Association heralded the decision, stating that they see it as a victory against the longstanding history of Blaine Amendments, which are considered to be anti-Catholic.
Ashley McGuire, senior fellow at The Catholic Association, said in a statement posted Tuesday morning that the decision "rings the death knell for anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments."
"For over a century, Blaine Amendments have enshrined into law discrimination against faith-based charities and schools that form an essential part of American society. In this case, a state Blaine Amendment was used to justify blacklisting a Christian elementary school from a playground safety program solely on religious grounds," said McGuire.
"Blaine Amendments are anti-Catholic in their origin, and getting rid of them is more than a century overdue. Today's decision demands a more fair and inclusive approach to government programs meant to serve all people."