Natural disasters are on the rise and religious organizations, the same organizations that came to victims’ rescue in the wake of the last natural disaster, are often left in the path of destruction. Under President Trump’s administration, FEMA recently amended its disaster assistance program to provide funding for religious organizations. Opponents argue this amendment is a violation of the Establishment Clause, while proponents argue the amended plan finally gives religious organizations the fair treatment they deserve. This new aid program needs to be modified and restricted. Though there is clear precedent to support providing some Public Assistance funding to religious organizations, FEMA’s current program results in government funding that advances religion. This paper traces Supreme Court precedent discussing the relevant tests when evaluating the receipt of federal funds by religious organizations, and ultimately concludes that FEMA’s disaster relief aid program goes too far.
Saving Grace: The Role of Religious Organizations in Disaster Recovery and the Constitutionality of Federal Funding to Rebuild Them,
SMU L. Rev.