Religious freedom in the American context has two meanings. One is that government will not promote religion or, as the 1st Amendment puts it, that there will be “no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
But the 1st Amendment also protects the “free exercise” of religion. That means citizens can’t be penalized for practicing their faith, including, the Supreme Court has ruled, when it comes to the allocation of government benefits.
On Wednesday the court struggled with a case originating on a preschool playground in which those two definitions of religious freedom seemed to pull in different directions.
Trinity Lutheran Church...