Texas Churches Demand End To Discriminatory FEMA Directive Against Houses of Worship Wanting to Help Harvey Victims

UPDATE 1-3-17: FEMA approves Gov. Abbott’s and Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton’s request to allow churches and religious organizations to receive the same public assistance available to other nonprofits aiding in Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Read more.

HOUSTON – Texas Values expresses its full support of a letter to the White House by First Liberty urging the Trump Administration to put an end to a discriminatory FEMA directive.

The directive, aimed at faith organizations such as churches, sets criteria that makes certain groups ineligible for the same disaster relief funds granted to secular organizations. President Donald Trump has voiced support for hurricane-affected churches seeking FEMA relief, in accordance with the federal Stafford Act that protects religious institutions from discrimination in granting disaster relief assistance. A lawsuit has already been filed by other churches on this matter.

First Liberty and several Houston-area pastors joined at Church on the Rock in Katy, Texas, this afternoon asking President Trump to rescind this discriminatory FEMA agency policy.

Said attorney Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values:

“FEMA needs to stop discriminating against churches on Hurricane Harvey relief requests. It has been demonstrated time and time again that churches and other faith-based groups provide the overwhelming majority of aid during disasters like Harvey and Irma. People of faith are among the first on the ground to roll up their sleeves and help with both coordinated and individual relief efforts. Administering an unconstitutional religious test should be the last thing on FEMA’s government agents’ minds during a major disaster like Hurricane Harvey.

“This is a discriminatory policy started in the past and continued through the Obama Administration,” said Chelsey Youman, Counsel for First Liberty. “The same religious institutions that are tirelessly serving their communities in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are being told by the federal government they don’t deserve the nation’s help.”

Link to White House Letter: https://firstliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Public-Assistance-for-Religious-Private-Nonprofit-Organizations-Ltr.pdf

Related legal documents: First Liberty information page | Becket Fund lawsuit

About Texas Values

Texas Values is a nonprofit organization dedicated to standing for faith, family, and freedom in Texas. More information is available at txvalues.org.


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