(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) After three Texas churches sued the federal government to try to secure relief money in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, four Republican U.S. senators introduced a bill to make houses of worship specifically eligible for such relief.

Under a law called the Stafford Act, which governs federal disaster relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is prohibited from giving Public Assistance program grants to houses of worship. Non-religious non-profit organizations are awarded those grants for repair, reconstruction or replacement of facilities harmed during natural disasters.

But in Houston, as one summary put it, even though “FEMA and local government agencies are currently using Hi-Way Tabernacle to shelter dozens of evacuees, distribute meals, and provide medical care… Hi-Way is not eligible for relief for the three-foot flood it suffered in its sanctuary, simply because it primarily uses its building for religious purposes.”

As in Trinity Lutheran, the Texas churches argue that the Stafford Act “expressly discriminates against otherwise eligible recipients like the Churches by disqualifying them from a public benefit solely because of their religious status and beliefs.”

These sorts of disputes have been occurring under both state and federal laws since at least the late 1800s….

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