Jessica OrbonApr 18, 2018, 9:16 pm

Top court: Churches can't get historic preservation grants

The ruling issued Wednesday overturns a lower court decision and now precludes churches from getting the state Historic Preservation Trust Fund grants

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that a county's longstanding practice of giving public historic preservation grants to churches violates the state Constitution.

The ruling issued Wednesday overturns a lower court decision and now precludes churches from getting the state Historic Preservation Trust Fund grants. But it doesn't call for churches that received grants to repay the money.

The court found the grants violate the constitution's religious aid clause.

A state judge ruled in January 2017 that the grants Morris County awarded to churches didn't violate constitutional protections because the state wasn't promoting religion by giving churches grants. The judge also found that excluding churches from getting grants available to all historical buildings would be tantamount to withholding general benefits to people on the basis of their religion.

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