Lankford Applauds FEMA Move to Allow Houses of Worship to Apply for Disaster Aid

U.S. Senator James Lankford is applauding the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to change rules concerning the eligibility of houses of worship to receive disaster relief. The agency revised its Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide to allow for the eligibility of churches and other faith based facilities to apply for FEMA aid.

The policy change reflects the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Trinity Lutheran case. The case involved a church which was denied a federal grant to rehabilitate a playground which was open to community use. The Court ruled 7-2 that denying Trinity Lutheran the grant solely because it was a church violated the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Lankford says FEMA’s decision will allow federal help to those organizations which help their communities daily.

“Faith-based nonprofits and houses of worship have always played a critical role in helping Americans in need, especially after a natural disaster,” said Lankford. “Just like charities, houses of worship that serve our communities and are impacted by natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, should not be disqualified from disaster assistance simply because they are religious in nature. I’m pleased that FEMA is taking this important step to include houses of worship into its list of eligible entities for aid.”

Lankford, along with Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Roy Blunt, had introduced legislation that would have made houses of worship eligible for FEMA assistance grants.

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