Christian non-profit groups are currently providing more aid to hurricane victims than the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and President Donald Trump believes churches should be eligible for federal reimbursement funds in the same way individuals and businesses are.
“About 80 percent of all recovery happens because of non-profits, and the majority of them are faith-based,” Greg Forrester, CEO of the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, told USA Today. About 75 percent of the groups represented by NVOAD are faith based.
The money is “all raised by the individuals who go and serve, raised through corporate connections, raised through church connections,” and amounts to billions of dollars worth of disaster recovery assistance, he added.
— Salvation Army USA (@SalvationArmyUS) September 6, 2017
The relationship between these disaster relief groups and FEMA is not competitive, but collaborative.
“FEMA administrator Brock Long asked concerned citizens to go to NVOAD.org to make donations – that is National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the alliance of volunteer organizations that are helping FEMA channel disaster assistance into the affected areas,” USA Today reported.
“FEMA – they have been a big blessing to us, they’re an assistance to us,” Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries for Samaritan’s Purse, said on Saturday. “For Hurricane Irma, the majority of our equipment has already been dispatched to Texas … so our office in Canada is bringing their equipment across the border and FEMA was instrumental in helping us clear that with customs and getting all the paperwork done.”
— Samaritan’s Purse (@SamaritansPurse) September 11, 2017
Samaritan’s Purse was among the 12 groups Trump and first lady Melania Trump gave a combined $1 million toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Other faith-based organizations they donated to included the Salvation Army, Operation Blessing, and Catholic Charities.
— Operation Blessing (@operationbless) September 7, 2017
— CatholicCharitiesUSA (@CCharitiesUSA) September 7, 2017
Trump tweeted last week that churches should be as eligible as any other organization to receive federal FEMA funds.
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
Reuters reported that Trump’s tweet came after a lawsuit was filed by three Texas churches seeking federal aid to repair severe damage to their structures.
Current FEMA policy specifically excludes houses of worship from receiving federal aid.
Becket, a pro-religious liberty advocate group, believes that this is unconstitutional discrimination.
“The principle is that governments can’t discriminate on the basis of religious status, and that is unapologetically what FEMA is doing here,” Daniel Blomberg, a lawyer for Becket, said.
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source: Western Journalism