Trump takes churches' side in financial debate after Hurricane Harvey

Churches that acted as shelters and supplied food during the hurricane are now claiming they deserve fair reimbursement, and US President Donald Trump has sided with them in the controversial debate.

September 10, 2017 04:39
1 minute read.
US President Donald Trump pauses during a statement at the White House

US President Donald Trump pauses during a statement at the White House. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)


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Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his support of the notion that churches that provided aid during Hurricane Harvey are entitled to receive federal funding.

He was reacting to the legal battle between three Texas churches and Federal Emergency Management Agency.

According to, The Harvest Family Church, the Hi-Way Tabernacle and the Rockport First Assembly of God are suing FEMA to end the ban on assisting religious institutions. These churches acted as shelters and supplied food during the hurricane and are claiming they deserve fair reimbursement.

American Jewish groups are debating if religious institutions should receive government funding even in the wake of a disaster because it violates the constitutional separation of church and state. Religious Jewish organization volunteered as shelters during the hurricane and would also benefit from such reimbursement.

However, Jewish leaders are concerned that blurring the line between church and state could cause problems. "While there is an understandable temptation to provide public funds to houses of worship in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it’s a temptation we must resist,” Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance, said in a statement.

“The underpinning of religious liberty in America is the separation of church and state,” he continued. “Steering public funds to houses of worship clearly violates constitutional boundaries between the two and would open the door to government interference in the affairs of houses of worship.”

The region under threat from Irma is home to the third-largest Jewish community in the United States. An estimated 540,000 Jews live in South Florida, with an additional 49,000 in the Houston area.

Michael Wilner contributed to this report.

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