Governor instructs DNR to consider religious organizations for grants

Gov. Eric Greitens reversed a Missouri policy Thursday that had banned religious organizations from receiving certain state grants — a move that could affect a case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court next week.

His directive allows religious organizations to apply for state Department of Natural Resources grants. Previously, applicants had to state that they were not owned or controlled by a church.

In 2012, the Department of Natural Resources denied a Columbia church preschool’s request to resurface its playground through the state’s Scrap Tire Surface Material Grant. The DNR cited the state constitution, which bans money from going “directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, or denomination of religion.”

The school sued, and that case has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Though Greitens’ statement said that the action isn’t “expected to affect” the case, former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Mike Wolff said the high court could dismiss it because there’s no longer a dispute between the church and the state regarding the policy.

Read more: St. Louis Public Radio, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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