Press Release

Historic churches plead for preservation Following oral argument today, Massachusetts high court will decide if churches can be excluded from historic preservation grants

Media Contact

Melinda Skea 202-349-7224 media@becketlaw.org

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The small town of Acton, Massachusetts was in court today standing up against an anti-religious group’s attempt to exclude church buildings from historic preservation programs. In Caplan v. Town of Acton, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says preservation grants can be used for all sorts of historic buildings – just not churches and synagogues. This case comes on the heels of June’s U.S. Supreme Court decision in Trinity Lutheran v. Comer that said that the government can’t block churches from participating on an equal basis in widely available public grant programs. Becket filed a friend-of-the-court brief defending the churches’ right to receive preservation funds on an equal footing with other historic buildings.  

The following statement can be attributed to Joseph Davis, legal counsel at Becket:  

The most surprising thing about today’s argument was the lengths Americans United went to try and save its case. They argued Old North Church, made famous by Paul Revere’s ride, can receive historic preservation funds because it isn’t really a church anymore—notwithstanding its weekly congregation. They even attacked church steeples in the town’s skyline as somehow inherently “troubling.” But Acton has had it right all along: historic church buildings are an important part of our history and they should be preserved for generations to come. 

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Melinda Skea atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7224.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  

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Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court.For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, includingBuddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians(read more here).