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Judge Denies FEMA Request For Delay in Dispute With Churches Over Disaster Aid

Image: Judge Denies FEMA Request For Delay in Dispute With Churches Over Disaster Aid
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By    |   Sunday, 12 Nov 2017 05:22 PM

A judge has rejected FEMA’s request to delay a challenge by three Texas churches wanting equal access to disaster relief aid programs, according to WND.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison also said he could issue a temporary restraining order against FEMA’s guidelines pending a full trial if the organization did not change its position by December 1.

Since Hurricane Harvey struck in August, FEMA has been denying houses of worship access to federal disaster aid grants, even as it permits other non-profit organizations to apply.

Due to this policy, three churches sued FEMA in September.

Even though the churches have received overwhelming support from the public for their position, FEMA has continued to keep houses of worship from the process for applying for disaster relief grants.

In September, four Republican senators introduced a bill that would give houses of worship the right to receive federal assistance following natural disasters, The Christian Post reported.

Ellison’s ruling repeatedly refers to a recent Supreme Court decision which stated that the First Amendment requires religious groups to receive equal access to widely available public programs.

Daniel Blomberg, a lawyer for Becket, a non-profit religious liberty law firm that represents the churches, said the judge recognizes that the churches here have suffered “significant damage” and that FEMA’s policy is "fraught” with constitutional issues.

“Discriminating against houses of worship, which are often on the front lines of disaster relief, is not just wrongheaded, it strikes at our nation’s most fundamental values,” Blomberg said.

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A judge has rejected FEMA's request to delay a challenge by three Texas churches wanting equal access to disaster relief aid programs, according to WND.
fema, judge, disaster aid, churches
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2017-22-12
Sunday, 12 Nov 2017 05:22 PM
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