Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Tuesday 28 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Wenceslaus
home iconNews
line break icon

Trump administration allows FEMA aid to houses of worship in policy shift

CHURCH,HARVEY

Mark Ralston | AFP

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/04/18 - updated on 01/04/18

Faith groups have been pushing for the change for decades

The Trump administration announced this week that houses of worship would now be able to use federal funds to rebuild after natural disasters. The policy marks a shift from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines which prohibit the expenditure of federal money on churches, synagogues and other houses of worship.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is among other faith groups, including Agudath Israel of America, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Jewish Federations of North America, which have been pressing for the change, reported the Washington Post.

“We thank the Trump administration for righting this longtime wrong and treating disaster-damaged churches, synagogues and other houses of worship fairly — on the same terms as other nonprofits such as museums, community centers and libraries stricken by natural disaster,” Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy at the Orthodox Union, a major U.S. Orthodox Jewish organization said, according to the report in the Washington Post.

The new rules were part of an update of a 217-page FEMA guide that notes “private nonprofit houses of worship will not be singled out for disfavored treatment.” The rule will be applied retroactively (to claims since August 23, 2017) to cover damage incurred by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma FEMA said.

The new FEMA rules concerning the expenditure of disaster relief funding are similar to rules passed in the House late last year, and in a pending Senate bill.

The federal policy which denied funding to houses of worship was based on the Stafford Act of 1988 which included a list of non-profit organizations eligible for federal disaster relief funding. While the list included community centers, museums and art centers, it did not include churches, synagogues or other houses of worship.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the administration of President George W. Bush denied funding to houses of worship, but helped religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals and nursing homes get funding.

At the time, H. James Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, was quoted as saying in a 2005 article in The Washington Post, saying that the Bush administration’s was steering clear of funding reconstruction efforts for houses of worship.

“I just want to make it clear that any facility that’s used primarily for inherently religious activities is not going to be covered,” Towey said.

Tags:
Religious Freedom
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
2
VATICAN LEGOS
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
3
Giovanna Binci
He’s autistic, she has Down syndrome, and they’re wonderfully hap...
4
Fr. Michael Rennier
The purpose of life according to J.R.R. Tolkien
5
PADRE PIO
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
6
crisis man
Marzena Devoud
Advice from 3 monks for overcoming acedia
7
Christ and the woman taken in adultery
Daniel Esparza
What Jesus wrote
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.