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FEMA: Churches Flooded by Harvey Can Receive Aid

Agency revises guidelines due to last year's biggest Supreme Court religious freedom case.
FEMA: Churches Flooded by Harvey Can Receive Aid
Image: Courtesy of Becket

Churches suing the US government for funds to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey received some good news at the start of 2018: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has revised its policies to make churches eligible for federal assistance following a disaster.

In the very first line of the 200-page-plus guide for FEMA’s public assistance program, the agency explicitly clarifies its new stance welcoming churches and other religious facilities that offer public services.

“Private nonprofit houses of worship will not be singled out for disfavored treatment within the community centers subcategory of [public assistance] nonprofit applicants,” wrote Alex Amparo, assistant administrator of FEMA’s recovery directorate.

FEMA cites last year’s major US Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, in which the high court decided that a church could not be deemed ineligible for a public benefit (in that case, grant funding to resurface a playground) ...

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