A Roman Catholic and a Jewish group have submitted friend-of-the-court briefs siding with three evangelical churches suing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, in a bid to change policy that bans disaster aid from reaching religious institutions.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Congregation Torah Vachesed synagogue of Houston have both spoken out in the Harvest Family Church v. FEMA case, the nonprofit law firm Becket announced Tuesday.
“Hard-hit houses of worship shouldn’t be denied a place at the table just because FEMA thinks they’re ‘too religious,'” said Diana Verm, legal counsel at Becket. “FEMA should drop its phobia of religion and get back to focusing on helping communities rebuild.”
The law firm noted that the latest amicus briefs highlight “FEMAs’s unfairness in discriminating against churches while using them as staging grounds for its relief efforts.”
The Catholic archdiocese pointed out in its brief that FEMA’s policy is “especially unfair,” given that many houses of worship are often at the “very forefront” of providing “immediate aid to persons in need, regardless of faith, in the aftermath of serious tropic storms and other natural disasters.”
Similarly, the Jewish congregation noted that Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston at the end of August, was “particularly unforgiving” to the city’s Jewish community.
“Despite this, Jewish institutions have been greatly involved in relief efforts throughout Houston. FEMA’s policy against funding otherwise qualifying religious institutions, however, would deny these same institutions equal access to public assistance to repair flood damage,” Congregation Torah Vachesed wrote.
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SOURCE: Stoyan Zaimov