Churches fight FEMA’s refusal to help them rebuild after Hurricanes
Non-profit organizations are able to request relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unless they are churches.
Three churches are fighting back against FEMA by filing suit because the agency refuses to approve their requests for relief money solely because they are religious.
Some of the churches served as FEMA coordination points, relief centers, and shelters during the storm using their own funds and resources to do so. They are asking the federal government to reimburse them for the efforts.
President Donald Trump tweeted last week that he believes FEMA should help the religious organizations.
Churches in Texas should be entitled to reimbursement from FEMA Relief Funds for helping victims of Hurricane Harvey (just like others).
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2017
Proponents believe that FEMA should disburse funds based on need, not whether or not the needy are religious.
Others argue that because the churches are non-profits, they pay no income taxes and should receive no benefits – an argument that would wade into dangerous waters considering that many of the poor devastated by the storms also do not pay income taxes.
The courts will have the final say and that could take months or years before these churches see reimbursement or relief.