Churches seek equal treatment for relief aid

Friday, September 22, 2017
 | 
Charlie Butts (OneNewsNow.com)

cross on church steepleSome of the churches in Texas that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey are seeking equal treatment and compliance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The churches are objecting to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) policies which prohibit the churches, but not other entities, from applying for federal assistance. Attorney Chelsea Youman of First Liberty Institute represents three churches in the Houston area and Beaumont, Texas.

"The current FEMA policy guide, as it stands, discriminates against religious entities solely because they are religious, which the Stafford Act actually prohibits," Youman states. "The Stafford Act says the president and the administration can't discriminate on that basis."

Youman

In effect, this discrimination makes religious organizations, including churches, second-rate citizens of the community, according to Youman. She explains that the policy flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court decision this past summer in the Trinity Lutheran case.

"[The Trinity case] did in fact hold that in any generally public benefit available to anyone, religious entities must have equal access, and there has to be an equal playing field, and they can't be denied the benefit on the basis of their religious character," Youman says. "And that's exactly what this FEMA policy does."

President Donald Trump has tweeted that churches ought to get aid. In response, First Liberty has written a letter to the White House asking the president to take action to reverse the discriminatory FEMA policy – not just for Houston, but for Florida as well.

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