U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today praised the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to provide funding for the repair, reconstruction, or replacement of houses of worship through the agency’s Public Assistance program, which provides grants for private nonprofit facilities in the wake of disasters. Wicker is a cosponsor of legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Mo., to make houses of worship permanently eligible for the program.
“This is an important change because it will ensure houses of worship are eligible for disaster aid on the same terms as other nonprofits,” Wicker said. “Mississippians know how important churches and their congregations are in supporting disaster response and rebuilding our communities. I look forward to working with Senator Blunt and others to pass a permanent disaster aid provision for America’s religious centers.”
Houses of worship were ineligible for FEMA Public assistance program grants prior to this week’s announcement. Churches and other religious centers impacted by disasters declared on or after August 23, 2017, and for applications for assistance that were pending with FEMA as of August 23, 2017, are now eligible for assistance.
According to FEMA officials, the change in policy was prompted by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, which found that a religious nonprofit organization could not be excluded from a state program simply because it was religious.
Sen. Roger Wicker Press Release