Saturday, December 02, 2017

Developments In Church Eligibility For FEMA Aid

As previously reported, three Texas churches have filed suit in federal district court challenging FEMA's policy of refusing disaster aid for houses of worship. FEMA, which is in the process of reviewing its policy, has refused to answer the complaint despite the court setting a Dec.1 deadline. According to the Houston Chronicle, just before the deadline passed, a group of civil rights organizations filed an amicus brief defending FEMA's policy.  Three hours after that brief was filed, federal district judge Keith P. Ellison who was assigned to the case recused himself, without explanation.

Meanwhile, as reported by Christian Times, on Thursday the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved and sent on to the full House H.R. 4460, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (full text). Section 211 of that bill amends 42 USC Sec. 5172 to add:
A church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other house of worship, and a private nonprofit facility operated by a religious organization, shall be eligible for [disaster relief] ..., without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility.