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Lawyers prepare for Missouri case before Supreme Court

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Cherry blossom trees bloom on the grounds of the U.S. Supreme Court.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) _ Lawyers in a case involving a Missori church and a state agency are preparing for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, which involves government funds and religious institutions.

The Supreme Court said in January it will hear Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia’s challenge to its exclusion from a state program that provides money to use ground-up tires to cushion playgrounds. The Department of Natural Resources based its denial of funds to the church on the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition of public money to aid any church.

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a state violates churches’ rights when it refuses to include them in general aid programs.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports (http://j.mp/29aS8FV) a lawyer for the church expects the court to hear the case in October.