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ICC Note: Three Texas churches have filed suit against FEMA regarding its policy of denying aid to religious institutions following the recent destruction from Hurricane Harvey. Although FEMA reportedly uses churches and other places of worship as relief centers on a regular basis, the policy in question prevents them from receiving assistance due to concerns regarding the separation of church and state. This policy has been questioned before in previous natural disasters, most notably in 2012 following the destruction of Superstorm Sandy.

By Stoyan Zaimov

09/06/2017 United States (Christian Post) – Three churches in Texas have sued the Federal Emergency Management Agency over its policy of not providing aid to religious institutions following the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey last week.

“After the costliest and most devastating natural disaster in U.S. history, the government should come to the aid of all, not leave important parts of the community underwater,” said Diana Verm, counsel at the nonprofit, public-interest law firm Becket.

“Hurricane Harvey didn’t cherry-pick its victims; FEMA shouldn’t cherry-pick whom it helps.”

Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle, and Rockport First Assembly of God are all arguing that they deserve disaster relief, just like other nonprofits, including museums and zoos.

FEMA’s policy blocks churches and other places of worship from receiving aid, due to the separation of church and state.

The policy has been questioned during a number of other natural disasters in the past, such as when Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York back in 2012.

Becket, which filed a lawsuit in Houston federal court against FEMA on behalf of the churches, argued that FEMA’s policy violates the Constitution.

“FEMA has previously praised churches and religious ministries and the valuable shelter and aid they provide to disaster-stricken communities, and regularly uses houses of worship to set up relief centers,” the group said.

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