"What Really Happened In The Mass. Tax-Aid-To-Churches Lawsuit" Q&A co-written by Venable partner, Doug Mishkin, was published in the "Wall of Separation Blog" on March 22, 2018. Here is an excerpt:
The SJC's decision does not categorically ban grants of public funds to churches solely because they are churches, but it also does not categorically permit such grants either – even if they are done for reasons like historical preservation, which are popular with some members of the public and elected officials. The SJC has strongly suggested that the closer the funding comes to the religious functions of the church, the more scrutiny it should receive from the courts, an approach that is consistent with how the U.S. Supreme Court limited its decision on the distribution of government money to churches in its recent Trinity Lutheran v. Comer decision. And that means that towns making the grants should carefully scrutinize funding decisions the same way. Indeed, immediately following the Acton decision, officials in the city of Oak Bluffs withdrew a decision they had made to fund the repair of stained-glass windows at a local church.