Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Description:  Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent a church that runs a preschool and daycare center, which was excluded from a Missouri program that provides grants to purchase rubberized surface material (made of recycled tires) for children’s playgrounds. Although the state highly ranked the center as qualified for the program, it denied the center’s application solely because a church runs the daycare.

Preschool director’s statement following oral arguments at US Supreme Court

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trinity Lutheran Child Learning Center Director Annette Kiehne made the following statement Wednesday outside the U.S. Supreme Court following oral arguments in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer:

“My name is Annette Kiehne, and I am director of the Child Learning Center at Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, Missouri. All of us at Trinity Lutheran are deeply grateful to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for hearing our case this morning. For six-and-a-half years, I’ve had the privilege of working with the boys and girls who attend our school … with the parents who entrust those children to our care … and with the teachers who share my commitment to providing a safe, joyful, rewarding learning experience for these children and their families. We have a wonderful job.

“Here is something you learn very quickly, working with children: A kid is a kid. Playground time, for a child, is about play. And play should be safe; safety shouldn’t hinge on whether a child is religious or they are playing on a playground at a religious school or at a secular or public institution.

“This is about working together to help keep our kids safe when they play—wherever they play. The safety of all children should matter to all of us. Most of the children who come to our preschool are from families who don’t go to our church. And a lot of children who play on our playground are from the surrounding neighborhood; they come with their families in the evening and on weekends.

“We aren’t asking for special treatment. We are just asking to not be treated worse than everyone else. Whether you are a Jewish, Muslim, or Christian kid, or not religious at all, when you fall down on a playground, it hurts just as much at a religious preschool as it does at a non-religious one. We trust and pray that the Supreme Court will consider that carefully, and rule in favor of the safety of children everywhere. Thank you.”
  • Pronunciation guide: Kiehne (KEE’-nee)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer on April 19, 2017. (Art Lien,

Additional resources: Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Previous news releases:

  • 2017-04-18: ADF to argue against religious discrimination Wednesday at US Supreme Court
  • 2017-04-17: Media call Tuesday with ADF attorney arguing for Missouri church at US Supreme Court
  • 2017-04-13: ADF statement on Missouri religious liberty policy announcement
  • 2017-04-05: Debate: ‘Tire Scraps and Religious Liberty’ at Newseum on April 7
  • 2017-02-17: US Supreme Court sets oral argument date for highly important religious freedom case
  • 2016-08-15: ADF answers Missouri’s claim that it is free to discriminate against religious preschool
  • 2016-06-29: Missouri tells Supreme Court that discrimination against churches is proper
  • 2016-04-22: Multiple groups voice support for preschoolers at US Supreme Court
  • 2016-04-14: ADF to Supreme Court: Govt isn’t neutral if it treats the religious worse than everyone else
  • 2016-01-15: US Supreme Court agrees to tackle religious hostility by states
  • 2015-12-21: ADF deflates Missouri’s arguments favoring religious discrimination in playground scrap tire program
  • 2015-12-08: Multiple states to US Supreme Court: Govt can’t show favoritism to non-religious preschoolers
  • 2015-11-05: ADF to US Supreme Court: Mo. can’t single out church preschool for discrimination
  • 2015-01-14: ADF to court: Mo. can’t arbitrarily choose which Christian pre-school qualifies for scrap tire program
  • 2014-02-05: Christian pre-school excluded from Mo. scrap tire program files appeal
  • 2013-01-31: Mo. scrap tire program runs down pre-school


  • James Gottry: Supreme Court considers whether government officials need to play fair on religion (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2017-04-23)
  • David Cortman: What the playground can teach the government about fair play (USA Today, 2017-04-19)
  • James Gottry: Is it okay to ban nonprofits from tax-funded programs solely because they’re religious? (The Federalist, 2017-04-19)
  • Alan Sears: Gorsuch and religious liberty: New justice could hear most important religious freedom case this term in first week (Fox News, 2017-04-18)
  • James Gottry: Religious discrimination case goes to SCOTUS: Will religious nonprofits be treated fairly? (CNS News, 2017-04-18)
  • Christiana Holcomb: Religious discrimination in playground case no laughing matter (The Hill, 2017-04-18)
  • Nathaniel Bruno: Protecting religious liberty safeguards all children on the playground equally (Public Discourse, 2017-04-18)
  • James Gottry: The Supreme Court goes to the playground (Washington Examiner, 2017-03-22)

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