Today at In God We Trust
Controversial FEMA Rule Frustrates Religious Organizations
The Jewish Daily Forward reports that “separation of church and state” issues are barring many houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy from receiving Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds, but different interpretations of the regulation are calling that policy into question.
Officials at the Department of Homeland Security are unclear whether or not the Constitution’s prohibition on government aid to religious groups applies in the case of disaster aid. Some say that granting such aid may violate the First Amendment.
According to FEMA spokesman Ed Conley certain not-for-profit institutions that provide essential public services, such as schools or homeless shelters, are eligible for aid even if they are affiliated with a religious institution.
Complicating matters is the fact that if an applicant wishes for FEMA aid and assistance from the Small Business Administration, the applicant must file separate applications, but the FEMA application must be filed first as the SBA application requires a FEMA registration number.